Saturday, May 31, 2008

Air Force Unit's Nuclear Weapons Security Is 'Unacceptable'

Air Force Unit's Nuclear Weapons Security Is 'Unacceptable'
Air Force Unit's Nuclear Weapons Security Is 'Unacceptable'

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 31, 2008; A03

The same Air Force unit at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota that was responsible for mishandling six nuclear cruise missiles last August failed key parts of a nuclear safety inspection this past weekend, according to a Defense Department report.

The 5th Bomb Wing was given an "unacceptable" grade in security of nuclear weapons, according to the review by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. In another category, management and administration, it received a grade of "marginal," based on deficiencies in recording changes that affected the operational status of nuclear cruise missiles and gravity bombs.

Those are two areas where failures last summer allowed a B-52 at Minot to be loaded with six air-launched cruise missiles and flown to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana without the pilots, air or ground crews knowing they contained nuclear warheads.

Among the problems found during last week's inspection: Internal security forces did not go to assigned defensive areas during an exercise that involved an attempt to steal a nuclear weapon; security guards failed to search an emergency vehicle that entered and left the nuclear storage area during that exercise; a security guard used his cellphone to play video games while on duty; and guards were unarmed at traffic control points along the route where nuclear weapons were to travel.

While 5th Bomb Wing units received passing grades in the remaining eight categories, agency inspectors concluded that security forces' lack of knowledge of their duties represented "a lack of supervision" and a "lack of training," according to the report.

The test failure was first reported yesterday by Air Force Times.

Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, who has seen the report, said yesterday that "this certainly requires a closer look than we have so far, because these are serious issues."

Maj. Thomas Crosson, spokesman for Air Combat Command, which supervises the 5th Bomb Wing, said yesterday that he would neither confirm nor deny the contents of the defense agency's report. He said they would not be released.

"There are areas identified as needing improvement," Crosson said. He said 5th Bomb Wing units will be reinspected in 90 days by the command's inspector general. In the interim, however, he said the wing will not lose its certification to handle nuclear weapons.

Col. Joel Westa, who took over the wing after last summer's incident, had warned his subordinates that the inspection would be tough. On Thursday, in a commentary on the Minot Air Force Base Web site, he praised two units of the wing that received good grades but made no mention of the poor ones.

After investigations that followed the August incident, the 5th Bomb Wing lost its certification, and personnel at every Air Force base with nuclear weapons had to go through retraining. Five officers, including the 5th Bomb Wing commander, lost their jobs along with some noncommissioned officers.

The Minot unit was recertified two months ago, after increased training and several practice runs.

Comments on DOE/NNSA's Draft Supplemental Analysis

May 29, 2008

NEPA Document Manager
P.O. Box 98518
Las Vegas, NV 89193-8518

RE: Draft Supplemental Analysis for the Final Environmental Impact Statement
for the Nevada Test Site and Off-Site Locations in the State of Nevada

To Whom It May Concern:
In response to DOE/NNSA’s April 17, 2008 notice announcing the availability of the
above-referenced Draft Supplemental Analysis (Draft SA), the Nevada Agency for
Nuclear Projects is providing the following comments:
DOE/NNSA must undertake the development of a new NTS Site-Wide
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Nevada Test Site (NTS)
It has been almost 12 years since DOE issued the Final NTS EIS in October 1996.
Since that time, there have been major changes and developments at NTS and within the
DOE/NNSA complex nationally that impact NTS. These include, among others:
Developments and changes with respect to the proposed Yucca Mountain highlevel
radioactive waste repository project and its interface/cumulative impacts
with regard to other NTS land uses;
Proposals for the T-18 relocation to the Device Assembly Facility;
Accelerated importation of mixed hazardous and low-level radioactive waste to
NTS for disposal;
Sub-critical testing at various NTS locations, including the JASPER program;
Proposals to dispose of Greater-Than-Class-C (GTCC) wastes at NTS;
Potential storage and/or disposal of sealed sources at NTS;
Potential disposal of Department of Defense depleted uranium at NTS;
Biological and chemical releases at NTS for use in training hazardous materials
and emergency response personnel;
The identification of NTS as a potential location for facilities considered in the
Draft Complex Transformation Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement;
The use of NTS as a Radiological/Nuclear Countermeasures Test and Evaluation
Consolidation of “special nuclear material” at NTS;
The proposed move of a research reactor currently at Sandia National Laboratory
to NTS;
Various current and future commercial ventures at NTS, including renewable
energy projects;
Potential large scale, open-air explosive detonations at locations not previously
evaluated and designated for such activities (e.g., Divine Strake);
Activities associated with maintaining readiness for resumption of underground
nuclear weapons testing, and the potential for resumption of such testing;
Generation of new transuranic waste at NTS resulting from the JASPER program,
the continued accumulation of TRU waste at NTS, and the transportation of TRU
waste off-site for disposal, characterization and repackaging;
Proposal to dispose of PUREX at NTS; and
Other uses that have been or may be proposed for NTS.
Since 1996, baseline conditions have changed markedly. It is difficult to see how the
1996 EIS and the two subsequent cursory and inadequate Supplemental Analyses
(including the current one) can possibly represent today's known baseline conditions.
The purported “updated” information contained in the April 2008 Draft SA is wholly
inadequate for making informed decisions regarding current and future uses and
management of NTS and its environment.
Long-term surveillance and maintenance plans and costs for the Area 3 and Area 5
disposal sites in relation to the remaining waste shipments from the weapons complex as
well as future uses of Mercury and the rest of the base camps in relation to existing and
future activities conducted on NTS must be evaluated in a new site-wide EIS. This is not
done –or even discussed –in the Draft SA. At a minimum, DOE needs to undertake a
comprehensive EIS to fully identify and evaluate all existing and proposed uses of NTS,
including waste disposal activities and historic contamination, including groundwater
By the same token, long-term plans for managing "rad contaminated" surface soils in
Yucca flat require a full-blown NEPA analysis. Nevada has been asking the question, “Is
a cleanup option being considered for NTS, and at what level (i.e., cleanup standard), or
not?” for years. If not, what is the plan for long-term institutional control and how does
this fit with the land use purposes currently applicable to NTS land withdrawals under
provisions of the Federal Land Management and Policy Act (FLPMA)? NTS is the only
facility in the DOE/NNSA weapons complex where comprehensive environmental cleanup
is not a priority. A new site-wide EIS must address long-term plans for cleaning up or
managing environmental contamination at NTS in the same manner that these issues are
being addressed at places like Hanford, Oak Ridge, Rocky Flat (where clean-up has been
substantially completed), and other DOE/NNSA sites.
There is also a need to establish new environmental baselines using, among other
things, data produced by the Underground Test Area (UGTA) investigations to date –i.e.,
groundwater contamination from testing –as well as data regarding environmental
impacts from the sub-critical testing program and numerous other defense activities
conducted at NTS. The Draft SA fails to address long-term environmental surveillance in
any meaningful way. Development of a new site-wide EIS is the only way to do this
adequately and comprehensively.
The Draft SA does not substantively address the issue of the NTS land withdrawal
and the conflicts between current and proposed land uses and the existing NTS land
withdrawal legislation
The Draft SA contains a single reference to the continuing controversy over the status
of the land at NTS and the failure by DOE to implement the conditions of the 1997
Settlement Agreement in State of Nevada v. O’Learythat called for consultations
between DOE and the Department of Interior (DOI) to attempt to clarify and resolve this
matter. The Draft SA states:
“As noted in the NTS EIS response to comments, DOE committed to consult with the
U.S. Department of Interior regarding the status of the administrative land
withdrawals constituting the NTS. That consultation process was initiated in 1997
and is continuing. DOE anticipates that these consultations will continue and hopes
they will reach a satisfactory conclusion.” (Draft SA, p. 3-18, section 3.2.1 –Land
The Settlement Agreement required DOE to report to the Nevada Attorney General
on those negotiations, something that has not been done. Recent correspondence from
the Nevada congressional delegation and the Nevada Attorney General to the Secretary of
Energy asking for clarification of the land status matter and the outcome of DOE’s
negotiations with DOI has had no response. In addition, language in a 2005 House of
Representatives committee report directs DOE to enter into formal consultations with
DOI and, if necessary, revise and update the NTS land withdrawal to reflect additional
uses that are currently not covered by the NTS land withdrawal legislation.
The need for new and comprehensive land withdrawal legislation also reinforces the
imperative of a new NTS site-wide EIS that can be used as a basis for such legislation
and that would provide current baseline information on past, existing, and proposed NTS
activities and assess impacts that need to be addressed and mitigated as part of any new
land withdrawal legislation.
It appears that, given congressional language in the land withdrawal legislation
governing NTS, DOE has been and is operating on tenuous legal grounds in expanding
the range of activities undertaken at NTS. The preparation of a new site-wide EIS for
NTS is in the interests of both DOE and the State of Nevada. A thorough analysis of all
current and planned/proposed NTS activities in such a new site-wide EIS, together with
an evaluation of the legal framework governing NTS, which requires a revised
congressional land withdrawal, is essential for resolving long-standing land use issues. A
new EIS is the only way to adequately assess the cumulative impacts of past, current and
proposed NTS activities and to establish new and accurate baseline data against which to
assess present and future impacts to humans and the environment.

Robert R. Loux
Executive Director


cc Governor Gibbons
Nevada congressional delegation
Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto
Marta Adams, Deputy Attorney General
Allen Biaggi, DCNR
Stan Marshall, NSHD
State Clearinghouse

Hot-Tub Sized Nuke Power Generators

Hot-Tub Sized Nuke Power Generators
Runs 5/30/08 through 6/6/08

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week's top headline:

• Local Company Moves Forward with Hot-Tub Sized Nuclear Power Generators

A New Mexico company recently received funding to develop a new type of portable nuclear power reactor that will produce steam, heat and electricity for industrial and mining operations. Altira Group LLC has invested an unknown amount into Hyperion Power Generation, Inc., based in Santa Fe. An initial investment by Altira is generally between $5 million and $10 million.

The reactor technology was developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). An exclusive license was granted to Hyperion for the intellectual property used to develop the hot tub-sized reactor. The license allows Hyperion to introduce, license, manufacture, market and distribute the reactor. Hyperion paid a fee to LANL to obtain the license and is required to compensate LANL with a percentage of the profits.

The modular reactor will use nuclear fuel that is less than the grade used for nuclear weapons. A pyrophoric powder uranium hydride will fuel the reactor. The uranium hydride has properties that make it spontaneously flammable in air. When uranium hydride comes into contact with water, it forms flammable and explosive hydrogen gas. The uranium hydride will be enriched to 5 percent for use in the 1½ meter reactor core.

Hyperion states that the reactors “are a perfect alternative for those communities – such as military bases, hospital and college campuses – that, for security, reliability, or financial reasons, desire to be independent of their local utility’s power source.”

The modules can be transported by truck or ship and set up in less time than is needed to build a new nuclear power plant. The steam turbine will generate approximately 25 megawatts of electrical power or 70 megawatts of heat, providing power for 20,000 typical American-sized homes. The units will run for about five years, at which time they will be removed from the ground where they have been buried and refueled at the factory.

Deborah Blackwell, Hyperion Director of Public Affairs, said, “The main thing is that it’s got a long way to go before it is deployed anywhere.” Blackwell estimates that a $100 million will be spent in the development phase. Toshiba is also working on a similar reactor design.

The push for new nuclear power plants is in response to global warming and climate change. Nuclear energy proponents argue that no greenhouse gases are generated by the power plants. But greenhouse gases are generated in the mining, transportation and processing of uranium, as well as by the waste created from all of the steps involved in generating nuclear power.

Recently the Wall Street Journal reported that the estimated cost for a new nuclear power plant has tripled or quadrupled in the past few years. Projections for a new reactor have escalated to $6 billion to $12 billion.

In response, ratepayers are concerned about higher electricity bills to pay for the new plants. Ratepayers and energy activists urge lawmakers to address global warming by providing an amount similar to that needed for a new nuclear power plant to local, independent businesses to carry out energy efficiency and weatherization programs.

This has been the CCNS News Update. For more information about this or other nuclear safety issues, please visit our website at

Friday, May 30, 2008

Siberia repository for nuclear waste called 'impractical' - News - Siberia repository for nuclear waste called 'impractical'
May. 30, 2008
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Siberia repository for nuclear waste called 'impractical'

Expert says geopolitical issues would surface


Shipping thousands of tons of highly radioactive spent fuel from U.S. nuclear power reactors across the ocean to an international repository in Siberia, if one is built, would be "impractical," a nuclear industry official said Thursday.

The comments of Steve Kraft, a senior director at the Nuclear Energy Institute, were made in reference to Arizona senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain's statement this week that an out-of-country, international repository for nuclear waste could eliminate the need for a U.S. repository at Yucca Mountain.

Kraft was speaking in a call to reporters in anticipation that the Department of Energy will submit its long-awaited license application to U.S. regulators for the Yucca Mountain site, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Not only would shipping such large amounts of highly radioactive waste overseas be impractical, but "it is also geopolitically very complex," Kraft said.

"My guess ... what he (McCain) meant was the right role for an international repository was for smaller countries' (used fuel) that could be brought together in one location," he said.

Kraft cited a 1993 case involving a very small amount of used fuel from New York's Shoreham nuclear plant's operators who considered shipping it to France for reprocessing after the plant was shut down.

The company had filed an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an export permit.

While all the requirements could be met, and the NRC staff recommended to proceed with the plan, the Department of Defense intervened with a letter saying that such an action was inconsistent with U.S. nonproliferation policy.

The NRC, as a result, never approved the request.

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at or 702-383-0308.

ER Radiation May Raise Cancer Risk

ER Radiation May Raise Cancer Risk

Multiple X-rays and Other Tests May Put Emergency Room Regulars at Risk
By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 29, 2008 -- Emergency room visitors may be exposed to potentially dangerous levels of radiation from X-rays, CT scans, and other tests that may increase their risk of cancer in years to come.

Researchers say emergency room physicians do not routinely keep track of the cumulative amount of radiation their patients receive. In fact, until now, they had no way of knowing how much radiation a patient has been exposed to during one or multiple visits.

A new study shows emergency room patients received an average radiation dose of 45 millisieverts. But 12% of patients received 100 or more millisieverts of radiation during the five-year study period -- a dose that exceeds the recommended safety limits and may increase the risk of cancer.

“Our research hopefully will affect the habits of physicians who routinely order medical imaging diagnostic studies in their practices,” researcher Timothy Bullard, MD, MBA, of the Orlando Regional Medical Center, says in a news release. “We also hope that our research will further promote the need for electronic medical records with portability and encourage the development of an individual patient cumulative exposure estimate tool.”

ER Radiation Unchecked

In the study, presented this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine in Washington, D.C., researchers measured the amount of radiation that a random sample of patients at two urban emergency rooms received over the course of five years.

Overall, an average of 10.8 tests involving radiation exposure, such as X-ray, CT scans, and nuclear imaging tests (tests that use small amounts of radioactive material to produce pictures of internal parts of the body not visible on X-rays), were performed on each patient studied.

Nearly two-thirds of these tests were X-rays (63%), 26% were CT scans, 5% were nuclear studies, and 2% were mammography.

Researchers found more than 70% of ER-related radiation exposure came from three primary types of diagnostic imaging tests: CT scans of the abdomen and pelvis, nuclear imaging of the heart, and CT scans of the chest.

They say if these findings apply to the average emergency room visitor nationwide, a substantial number of people may be at increased risk of developing cancer during their lifetime because of excessive radiation exposure from diagnostic ER testing.

They estimate that an additional six cancers above the national average would be attributable to radiation exposure in this population.

Political Activism, use of Fremont ACLU Lawsuit, reaps benefits

Use of Fremont ACLU Lawsuit, reaps benefits for Political Activism

"It’s one of those Las Vegas problems: Where do you hold a demonstration?

There’s no Times Square or People’s Park, no public space dedicated by tradition to hollering your fellow citizens into enlightenment.

And few places seem to offer the necessary qualities, like visibility (you have to have people to harangue), and being on public property (you have to have somewhere to stand without getting arrested).

Given all that, you settle on holding your demonstration on Fremont Street." (Las Vegas Sun, quote source)

A Federal Lawsuit which, I (Gregor Gable 0f Shundahai Network) initiated with Paul Brown ( for Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Committee) with the help of Gary Peck (Las Vegas, NV ACLU)
See link to pdf of ruling ( see note 1)

Proved useful in allowing on Wednesday night "when volunteers gathered on Fremont Street to quiz passers-by on the differences between President Bush and Republican presidential candidate and Arizona Sen. John McCain. is an online network of liberal activists and, in their opinion, not a lot of important differences exist."

Political activism amid bacchanalia
Fremont Street is Vegas’ public commons by default

Action taken by myself and Paul Brown have now allowed the use of Fremont St (Las Vegas, NV Landmark) to be used as a public commons.

It put a smile on my face to see the results of this lawsuit filed, in August 1997, allowing political activism on a national scale.

So as my friend Peter Bergel of Oregon Peace Works always says
"Do something for Peace today"

I can honestly say, Yes I have done something for Peace Today and it's far reaching
results allow others to do the same.

Kind, regards
Gregor Gable

Note 1
AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF NEVADA; Paul R. Brown; Greg Gable; Gary Peck; Shundahai Network; Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Committee, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CITY OF LAS VEGAS; Jan Laverty Jones; Fremont Street Limited Liability Corp.; Mark Paris, Defendants-Appellees. American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada; Paul R. Brown; Greg Gable; Gary Peck; Shundahai Network; Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Committee, Plaintiffs Appellees, v. City of Las Vegas; Jan Laverty Jones; Fremont Street Limited Liability Corp.; Mark Paris, Defendants Appellants.

Navajo Nation Pushes for Uranium Cleanup

Navajo Nation Pushes for Uranium Cleanup

Listen Now [7 min 45 sec] add to playlist

Related Resources

Bryan Red House of Crownpoint, N.M., protests uranium mining near his community.

Bryan Red House of Crownpoint, N.M., protests uranium mining near his community as he sits outside the U.S. Federal Courthouse in downtown Denver, Monday, May 12, 2008.

Morning Edition, May 30, 2008 · Despite the lure of millions of dollars, the Navajo Nation has banned uranium mining on its reservation, which spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. That decision is the result of an ongoing legacy of disease left by decades of mining in the past.

Chris Shuey, of the Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque, N.M., studied the impact of uranium on the Navajo community and found they had lower cancer rates than the general population before mining. The rates are three- to five-times higher now.

"There were no standards, there were no safety precautions," Shuey said. "And the excuse was the federal government made the decision to get fissile material out of the ground for the nuclear weapons program to protect national security. … This was the mantra."

Thousands of uranium mines operated on Navajo land from the 1940s to the 1980s. All are now abandoned, many with radioactive mine waste, called "tailings," blowing in the wind. Some Navajo homes were even built using radioactive dirt. People still drink from unregulated, and possibly contaminated, water sources.

Tribal member Larry King was a child when the land was mined. He remembers playing around the mines and the streams coming from them.

"The water tasted good, so we drank water from there," King says. "And I used to herd sheep and play on the waste pile down there."

But the Navajo are not the only people affected by uranium contamination. Non-native miners and people who worked at or lived downwind from nuclear test sites in the West have suffered, too.

Scotty Begay, a former miner, says the rules in his mine were pretty lax.

"The yellowcake — which was enriched uranium — people were packing it at home," Begay says. "Doors that were supposed to be secured were left open. People were allowed to work around it with bare hands, not wearing the protective gear that they should have been wearing."

When the Dust Blows

Teddy Nez lives in Coyote Canyon, a remote part of New Mexico. His home is right next to Northeast Church Rock Mine, an abandoned uranium mine; a 40-foot-high pile of radioactive mine tailings sits just the length of a football field from his house. A wire fence and warning signs were put up this year, but the fence isn't doing much.

Last summer the Environmental Protection Agency and the Navajo Nation EPA said they were removing radiation around Nez's home. Bulldozers took away six inches of radioactive topsoil.

Nez says officials called it "time-critical removal," which he finds curious because the soil had been there since he returned from serving in Vietnam in 1971. Wind blows the contaminated soil into the air, and rain washes it under the fence back toward the house. Nez says the cleanup around his house was, at best, a Band-Aid.

"When the dust blows, the EPA people told me not to work outside too long," Nez says.

Nez and his neighbors might be wise to relocate, but there's little money to do that, and neighbor Larry King says they don't want to leave.

"Traditionally when a baby is born, when the umbilical cord dries up and falls off, it's buried in the sheep corral," King says. "So that's how we're tied to the land. To relocate … I don't think it's in anybody's vocabulary here at the moment."

Cleanup is a daunting task. For starters, no one even knows how many abandoned mines there are on the Navajo Nation reservation. Cleanup costs will be enormous, and no one has officially taken responsibility for the contamination. Even the bureaucracy is overwhelming: Five federal agencies alone are involved, along with tribal and state agencies.

Residents of the area around the Northeast Church Rock Mine are united, though. Earlier this year, they formed a community association. Members like King think this grassroots effort is their best chance to force a solution.

Many of the neighbors testified before Congress last fall. That testimony resulted in a draft action plan from the EPA, which identifies cleanup of the Northeast Church Rock Mine as one of the highest priorities.

Glow of Uranium Boom Attracts U.S. Miners

Listen Now [5 min 13 sec] add to playlist

Joe Lister
Ted Robbins/NPR

Joe Lister has managed the Mt. Taylor mine — pretty much alone — since it closed 17 years ago.

The gate leading into the Mt. Taylor mine in northern New Mexico.
Ted Robbins/NPR

The gate leading into the Mt. Taylor mine in northern New Mexico. It's the country's largest uranium mine.

More on U.S. Mines

All Things Considered, May 29, 2008 · Since the 1980s, the world has had huge stockpiles of uranium ore as a result of the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race and little interest in new nuclear power plants.

But now, there's money to be made in mining uranium.

The price of uranium ore has shot up 10-fold in the past three years because demand has outstripped supply.

Countries like China and India have plans to open dozens of new nuclear power plants, which require enriched uranium for fuel. Major producers — like Australia, Canada, Russia and Namibia — are the major suppliers.

And now the U.S. uranium industry wants to get in on the boom.

Mining companies have staked tens of thousands of claims in five Western states. Those who are in charge of established mines, such as the Mt. Taylor mine in northern New Mexico — the country's largest — want to reopen them.

Since Mt. Taylor closed 17 years ago, Joe Lister has been managing it pretty much alone. He says he'd like to have his 450 colleagues back and working.

But startup costs — up to $150 million for the mine — are an inhibiting factor.

So are federal and state rules regulating the radioactive mineral. Regulations on mine safety, uranium waste and environmental impact are tough and numerous.

Plus, after decades of little activity, the glut of new applications has overwhelmed officials who regulate the industry. The situation is even worse because many of the officials who knew the regulations have retired, according to Patrick Donnelly, a mining analyst with Salman Partners in Toronto.

"And now you're seeing a new generation of scientists and bureaucrats, and ... dealing with these permits and licenses, and these people are inexperienced," Donnelly says. "They're going to be a lot more careful, a lot more rigorous in the permitting process. No one wants to make a mistake."

There are plenty of nuclear industry opponents watching.

But why aren't more mines open in the U.S.?

"When we say uranium, when we say nuclear, what are your first thoughts?" Mt. Taylor's Lister says. "What is the first thing you think of? Do you think atomic bomb? Do you think Three Mile Island? Most people do."

There have been no reported nuclear power plant incidents that threatened public safety since the accident at the nuclear power plant Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania 29 years ago.

There is an issue of what to do with spent fuel, but with petroleum prices soaring and carbon-emitting coal plants under scrutiny, Donnelly says more mines will open. The need for energy is just too big and there's too much money to be made supplying it.

"You will see a uranium mining renaissance in the U.S.," Donnelly says. "Are you going to see it this year? A little bit. Next year, a little bit more."

Reasons Why Yucca Mountain Should NOT be a Nuclear Waste Dump





(A slightly sarcastic take on the issue penned by former Las Vegas Sun scribe Launce Rake)
1. Putting highly toxic radioactive waste in and around volcanoes and earthquake faults is a recipe
for A Really Bad Day!

2. The Air Force drops REALLY, REALLY big bombs right next door.
Bombs + High Level Radioactive Waste = A Really Bad Day

3. Nevada is the driest state in the United States, and that means we need water. A lot. And one
of the big sources of water just happens to be under Yucca Mountain. Leaching radioactive
waste into our pristine aquifers will not improve water quality.

4. Yucca Mountain doesn’t belong to the United States government. By internationally recognized
treaty, it belongs to the Western Shoshone Nation. We need to start taking those treaty
obligations seriously.

5. The Department of Energy has failed to comply with the technical and legal requirements set for
using the mountain as a dump site. The agency bureaucrats’ two favorite words? “Trust Us!”

6. The Department of Energy doesn’t even have a completed design for the site. Their two favorite
words again…

7. The Department of Energy does not have a detailed plan in place if something goes wrong
because nothing, apparently, could possibly go wrong, go wrong, go wrong... Just in case,
though, the general idea for a response involves robots. The Department of Energy has Gov.
Schwarzenegger on speed‐dial.

8. Shipping the dangerously radioactive waste from throughout the entire United States creates
endless opportunities for terrorists or accidents to spill the material in millions of backyards.
Such an event would be A Really Bad Day for anyone in the neighborhood.
9. The latest Department of Energy plan is to put metal umbrellas over the canisters holding the
toxic radioactive waste to keep water from rusting holes in the cans. But the idea is to wait 100
years before putting the umbrellas up. Seriously. Volunteers to install the umbrellas are being
recruited from the High School Class of 2108.

10. The Department of Energy says not to worry, that as a Highly Responsible Federal Agency, they
will come up with a plan to deal with any problems. Just like their friends at FEMA and the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers came up with a plan to deal with Hurricane Katrina

Law for English retains a foe

Law for English retains a foe

Principal Chief Chad Smith: "Language is identity," he tells his audience.

By CLIFTON ADCOCK World Staff Writer
Last Modified: 5/29/2008 3:02 AM

The Cherokee chief says he'll fight any legislation that will restrict other languages.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith told a luncheon crowd on Wednesday that he will fight any future attempts to make English the state's official language.

He also said this year's failed attempt in the Legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the issue on November's ballot was mere political posturing.

Smith addressed the monthly luncheon of the Greater Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at the Crowne Plaza Hotel downtown.

He said rather than passing legislation to restrict other languages, the Legislature should focus on measures that would encourage children to learn other languages and about other cultures.

Such a measure, Smith said, not only would help youngsters broaden their horizons, but show the state is open to other cultures, languages and points of view.

"Language is identity," Smith told the group. "It's how you see the world. Allowing different languages is a competitive intelligence."

Because of forced assimilation, such as punishment at Indian boarding schools for speaking the Cherokee language, fewer than 5 percent of tribal members speak the language, Smith said.

"The value for us in language, it brings activeness, it brings fulfilment, it brings depth," he said.

Smith said showing tolerance for other languages and cultures takes a broader view of the world.

"To me, that's what revitalizing a language is, thinking in color instead of black and white," Smith said. "When you capture the concept of English-only, what you're implying is ignorance; it's myopic. You stay confined in this little box."

This year, a measure sponsored by Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, would have put the issue of English as an official language on November's ballot as a constitutional amendment. But it failed to come to a vote in the Senate after language in the bill was deemed unclear.

In previous years, when bills promoting English as an official language came before the Legislature, Smith often was allowed to speak. However, at a committee meeting this year on Senate Bill 163, he was denied the opportunity to speak, and interrupted after he heard Terrill speaking about how the bill's purpose "was to assimilate and acknowledge that bilingualism is divisive."

"What do we assimilate to? We assimilate to Mr. Terrill's mind, which is spooky in itself," Smith said Wednesday.

"This year, there's no question, it was placed for a constitutional referendum vote not because they wanted it to pass, but because they wanted to get Republicans to the polls. They believed they could pander to the lowest common denominator of the Republican Party and of the general public by saying 'We're tired of hearing Spanish.' Then you drive public policy by pandering to the lowest common denominator and prejudices of people, prejudices born out of fear of intelligence."

Forced assimilation is not the answer, Smith said, and the issued is unlikely to remain dormant for long.

"If we want to assimilate, it's not by force, but because we choose to adapt," he said. "This issue is not going away; it will be back next year."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sellafield's nuclear waste 'more dangerous' than Chernobyl - The Irish Times - Thu, May 29, 2008 - Sellafield's nuclear waste 'more dangerous' than Chernobyl
Sellafield's nuclear waste 'more dangerous' than Chernobyl

FRANK McDONALD, Environment Editor

SELLAFIELD HAS the world's biggest stockpile of plutonium and uranium and storage tanks contain highly volatile radioactive waste "more dangerous" than the Chernobyl reactor, according to a study published today.

The study, Voodoo Economics and the Doomed Nuclear Renaissance, also says the British government is now unlikely to meet its 1998 commitment under the Ospar Convention to reduce "close to zero" Sellafield's radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea by 2020.

Compiled for Friends of the Earth by veteran British environmental journalist Paul Brown, the report says the 2012 deadline for closing the Magnox reprocessing facility at Sellafield has now been abandoned and that the Thorp plant will have to remain open until 2015.

The study recalls that Britain's "nuclear recycling centre" has suffered "many near disastrous episodes in its history; but accidents and technical and management failures in the past 10 years have brought this production line of linked nuclear factories to a crisis".

"Sellafield is the home of the world's biggest stockpile of plutonium and uranium," writes Mr Brown.

The Magnox plant - described as Sellafield's "workhorse" - has produced an unused stockpile of 103 tonnes of plutonium and more than 30,000 tonnes of uranium.

"There is an ever-increasing quantity of nuclear waste which, despite billions of pounds of investment in hardware, the industry is struggling to deal with." Most of this is stored in huge tanks the size of swimming pools that have to be kept cool and monitored constantly.

The operators, Sellafield Ltd (formerly British Nuclear Fuels), are under a legal obligation to the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate to reduce the volume of highly radioactive "liquors" from 1,575 cubic metres in 2001 to a "buffer stock" of 200 cubic metres by 2015.

The storage tanks in which this highly volatile waste is held are considered to be "the single installation most vulnerable to terrorist attacks and together contain far more dangerous radioactivity than the Chernobyl reactor", said Mr Brown, who is a former environment correspondent of the Guardian.

His study notes that the Government has often expressed concern about the danger of a collapse of the tanks or the consequences of an interruption in the 24-hour-a-day supply of electricity and water that is required to keep the tanks cool.

The major clean-up priority at Sellafield is turning the highly dangerous liquid radioactive wastes into safer glass blocks. But the vitfrication plant where 1,335 cublic metres of liquid waste was to be converted into glass blocks has been unable to keep pace with production.

The study notes that there have also been technical problems with the evaporators - "giant kettles" that concentrate the liquid so that it can be stored for vitrification. Successive faults have meant they have been unable to deal with the volume of waste at Sellafield.

The failures of the vitrification and evaporator plants have forced Sellafield to scale back its reprocessing operations to avoid high-level waste accumulating. The extent of Sellafield's problems has not been fully explained to the public, nor have the potential knock-on effects for the nuclear industry, the study says. But the situation was rapidly getting worse and turning into an "economic and security nightmare".

Petition Against Yucca Mountain

Posted: May 27, 2008 02:19 PM

Bryan West
Channel 2 News

Nevada Senator Harry Reid joined a coalition of Nevada leaders and environmental groups to launch a petition effort against the license application by the Department of Energy (DOE) for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump.

The petition tells the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the people of Nevada stand staunchly against the proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain. Reid was the first to sign the petition at today's event, along with Congressman Jon Porter; Senator Richard Bryan; Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid; Clark County Commissioner Susan Brager; and representatives from the Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects, Citizen Alert, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Sierra Club and Nevada Nuclear Waste Taskforce.

"We will not let the people of Nevada be put at risk by the storage or transportation of the nation's nuclear waste - not now and not ever. I urge Nevadans to join me in signing this petition today," Reid said.

The license application is expected to be submitted next month to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

McCain still backs Yucca plan

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: McCain still backs Yucca plan

Regulatory requirements must be met, presidential hopeful says


RENO -- Republican presidential hopeful John McCain said Wednesday that he continues to support the creation of a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain if all necessary requirements are met.

Stumping at a town hall meeting in front of about 600 supporters, McCain prefaced his pro-Yucca Mountain comments by telling the audience that he must sometimes "tell people what they don't want to hear."

"I support Yucca Mountain once it goes through all of the process that it needs to go through," he said, to some applause. "But I also support reprocessing" nuclear waste.

The country needs to do both, McCain said.

The Arizona senator said the Carter administration in the 1970s stopped the reprocessing of nuclear waste in the United States, even though it is done elsewhere in the world.

McCain also reiterated comments from Tuesday that he would push for an international facility where nuclear waste from around the world could be stored, "if it's possible to do that and reach some international agreements where we can do that."

On Tuesday, McCain told a crowd in Denver that such a facility could eliminate the need for Yucca Mountain. He did not repeat the comment in Reno.

He did not elaborate on the idea and did not speak to the media after the hourlong event at the Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows.

McCain voted for Yucca Mountain as the site of a high-level nuclear waste repository in 2002, when the Senate overrode Gov. Kenny Guinn's veto of the site. The vote was 60-39.

McCain, who said he would battle to win Nevada in November, said the country must end its reliance on foreign oil by exploiting the country's natural resources but also by expanding the use of alternative energy sources, including solar and nuclear power.

"The U.S. Navy has sailed ships around the world for more than 50 years with nuclear power plants," he said.

He disagreed with one questioner at the meeting who said oil exploration should be allowed in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

One key to encouraging further oil exploration around the country would be to offer states such as California a larger share of revenue for favorable energy policies, McCain said. But states retain the right to determine what happens off their shorelines, he said.

The real answer to the nation's oil dependence is "batteries that will take a car 100 miles before they have to plug it in. It's with hybrids. It's with nuclear. It's with wind. It's with solar."

Solar is a particularly attractive technology in Nevada and Arizona, McCain said.

Much of the oil revenue goes to countries that don't like the United States, and some of it ends up in the hands of terrorists. The country's oil dependence is a national security issue, a climate issue and an economic issue, McCain said.

In remarks prior to taking questions from the audience, McCain said he would stop the spending spree that Congress has been engaged in over the past several years.

He said the United States is winning the war in Iraq, and he criticized Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., the leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, for not visiting the country to see what is happening firsthand.

"My friends, this is about leadership," he said.

McCain mentioned Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., only once, and as an afterthought. He mentioned President Reagan several times but did not mention President Bush.

The Nevada Democratic Party dismissed McCain's visit as an attempt to build support in a state he previously ignored. McCain came in third in the Nevada Republican caucus.

"He ignored Nevada during the presidential caucus, and it's hurting him now that he has no organization on the ground," said Kirsten Searer, deputy executive director of the Nevada Democratic Party.

After the meeting, McCain attended a fundraiser at the Eldorado Hotel and Casino in Reno, where he was met by a few dozen protesters. The lunch cost $1,000 per person. Lunch with a photo cost $2,300.

Contact Review-Journal Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@review or 775- 687-3900.

Yucca Mountain

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why Divine Strake & other tests are risky

[Why Divine Strake-like tests and, specifically, the recent Nellis AFB test explosions are risky.]

From: Andrew Kishner <>
To: <>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 12:51:43 -0400
Subject: [idealist] The plutonium plume that fell on Utah

For about two years now, I've been regularly re-reading an article saved on my desktop that is titled 'Atomic "Safety Tests" in 1950s Showered Utah With Plutonium.' It was published by the Washington Post in 1979.

What has bothered me about this article for a long time is that no one ever seems to reference it and, also, that I simply have not been able to understand how it could be true. Most scientists and amateurs, such as myself, know that the fallout from past atomic blasts contained little plutonium since that fission 'trigger' material is usually consumed by the nuclear blast. I also knew about the so-called safety tests of 1957-1958 when the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) conducted plutonium dispersal experiments in and around the Nevada Test Site.

I never believed that when the AEC started blowing up mock or real warheads that the plutonium dust would travel 'that' far into Utah and create 'that' much contamination.

The 1979 Washington Post article states that plutonium was spread across the most densely populated part of Utah - meaning in and around Salt Lake City - in the late 1950s that produced levels of plutonium as much as 3.8 times higher than concentrations elsewhere. What was surprising to those scientists is that the plutonium - the most radiotoxic of all materials - was found in such large quantities. The scientists in Utah attributed it to those safety tests. The same happened with a Nevada graduate student who in the 1990s found plutonium dust in the attics of homes in Las Vegas and other towns in Nevada and Utah that he attributed to the safety tests.

The worst of all the safety tests was 'Project 57,' which contaminated Nevada Test Site's Area 13 with four times more Curies of radioactivity than average at nine other safety test sites. The estimated contamination at Area 13 is 46 Curies - hundreds of acres of soils are contaminated at levels that would provide a fatal dose to humans.

The plume cloud from Project 57 apparently went north-northeast and deposited just over 200 Curies of plutonium over a large area extending towards Ely, Nevada, and into Utah, and possibly Salt Lake City. Since plutonium concentrations greater than 10 picoCuries (10 trillionths of a Curie) per gram are fatal for humans, there are a lot of 'hot' areas at Area 13 and all over Nevada and Utah that contain dangerous levels of plutonium that will remain so for the next 240,000 years. Worse, 99% of the plutonium particulates at Area 13 - and possibly elsewhere - are small enough to be picked up by wind. And worse, Area 13 hasn't been cleaned up and the plutonium there keeps on getting resuspended into other areas that aren't 'protected' by radiation monitoring equipment. The current monitoring network run by the DOE cannot detect alpha or beta radiation (e.g., plutonium 239).

Downwinder activist and playwright Mary Dickson has for a long time tried to call attention to the fact that there are downwinders in northern Utah. Her play 'Exposed' and her many writings testify to the fact that Salt Lake City and its environs were exposed and people have died and are dying from that exposure. It is possible that the lack of data and fallout maps regarding these safety tests has prevented the public from believing these stories and also the link between safety and other atomic tests and radiation-induced illnesses in Northern Utah.

This data, however, isn't forthcoming from the DOE and the DOE's stalled environmental cleanup and incomplete environmental analysis of Area 13 should not go unnoticed. The DOE should complete a new, full-blown EIS for the Nevada Test Site to address these lingering radiation hotspots, the dangers of resuspension and the lack of adequate airborne radiation monitoring in and around downwind communities.

(The information cited above is largely from the following source: 'The American West at Risk' by Howard G. Wilshire, Jane E. Nielson and Richard W. Hazlett pp.395-398)

cost of nuke clean-up likely to raise by millions

Cost of nuclear clean-up 'likely to rise by millions'

Related News

Full coverage »

Nuclear costs 'to rise by billions'

Campaign groups have warned that the cost of decommissioning nuclear power stations was "spiralling out of control" after an official admission that an estimate of £73 billion was set to rise.

The £73 billion figure, published in January, was an increase of £12 billion on the previous estimate made in 2003, but a senior official at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority said he believed the cost would continue to escalate.

Director Jim Morse told the BBC: "I think it's a high probability that in the short term it will undoubtedly go up."

Environmental campaigners reacted with anger to the admission and said a "radical new approach" to energy generation was needed.

Friends of the Earth's nuclear campaigner Neil Crumpton said: "Nuclear and fossil fuel power generation pose an enormous threat to the environment - and their cost to the economy is spiralling out of control.

"The Government must come forward with a comprehensive programme of action to cut energy waste and exploit the UK's considerable potential for generating renewable power from wind, waves and the sun.

"The Government must seize the opportunity to make the UK a world leader in developing a low-carbon, nuclear-free economy - and create a safer and cleaner future for us all."

Ben Ayliffe, head of Greenpeace's nuclear campaign, said: "The Government's own experts have no idea how much it will cost to clean up nuclear waste. All they can do is guess that the figure will grow by billions of pounds from an already eye-popping £73 billion.

"To make matters worse, there is no guarantee that potential operators of new nuclear power stations will be made to pick up the full tab for dealing with their radioactive waste."

A spokesman for the Business and Enterprise Department said: "It's vital that we invest appropriately in the safe and secure clean up of the UK's nuclear legacy. This is precisely why the Government set up the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority which is establishing a competitive market in nuclear clean up that will drive down the eventual costs and encourage innovative solutions."

On eve of Nevada visit, McCain tries to flip flop on Yucca Mountain

On eve of Nevada visit, McCain tries to flip flop on Yucca Mountain

Release Date: May 27 2008

A day before he is scheduled to visit Reno, presidential candidate John McCain is trying to fool Nevada voters and back off of his longtime support of making Nevada the nation's nuclear waste dump.

McCain, who has consistently voted for the Yucca Mountain project while in the Senate, today said in Denver, "I would seek to establish an international repository for spent nuclear fuel that could collect and safely store materials overseas that might otherwise be reprocessed to acquire bomb-grade materials. It is even possible that such an international center could make it unnecessary to open the proposed spent nuclear fuel storage facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada." []

McCain did not explain how this international repository would work, and it is a disingenuous 180-degree turnaround for the Arizona senator. Not only has McCain voted for the Yucca Mountain dump, but he also admitted in the Las Vegas Review-Journal last May that, if Nevadans are voting for president based on his or her support of Yucca Mountain, then McCain might lose voters in the state.

McCain said, "Well, if that's their defining issue then I certainly understand why they wouldn't." ["Nevada's Litmus Test: Scrutiny increases on Yucca," May 7, 2007, Las Vegas Review-Journal]

He also said in the article, "I think we have to have a place to store the waste. I think that nuclear power has got to be a vital part of our effort to be independent of foreign oil, and I think it's (Yucca Mountain) a suitable place for storage."

An article in last week's Huffington Post also revealed that one of McCain's top media consultants in his current presidential campaign headed up a nationwide push in 2002 to pressure Senators to vote in favor of the nuclear waste dump in Nevada. []

"John McCain is an unabashed supporter of Yucca Mountain, despite the dire safety concerns associated with the dump. Every time McCain has had an opportunity to make Nevada the nation's nuclear waste dump, he has taken it, with no concerns that Yucca Mountain endangers Nevada's groundwater, or that it would force the unsafe trucking of toxic nuclear waste through communities around the country," said Kirsten Searer, deputy executive director of the Nevada Democratic Party.

"McCain has apparently just realized that his support of Yucca Mountain might cost him a critical swing state, and now he's trying to flip flop," Searer said. "But Nevadans won't let John McCain forget that he has a very clear record of supporting Yucca Mountain."

Release Date: May 27 2008

A day before he is scheduled to visit Reno, presidential candidate John McCain is trying to fool Nevada voters and back off of his longtime support of making Nevada the nation's nuclear waste dump.

McCain, who has consistently voted for the Yucca Mountain project while in the Senate, today said in Denver, "I would seek to establish an international repository for spent nuclear fuel that could collect and safely store materials overseas that might otherwise be reprocessed to acquire bomb-grade materials. It is even possible that such an international center could make it unnecessary to open the proposed spent nuclear fuel storage facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada." []

McCain did not explain how this international repository would work, and it is a disingenuous 180-degree turnaround for the Arizona senator. Not only has McCain voted for the Yucca Mountain dump, but he also admitted in the Las Vegas Review-Journal last May that, if Nevadans are voting for president based on his or her support of Yucca Mountain, then McCain might lose voters in the state.

McCain said, "Well, if that's their defining issue then I certainly understand why they wouldn't." ["Nevada's Litmus Test: Scrutiny increases on Yucca," May 7, 2007, Las Vegas Review-Journal]

He also said in the article, "I think we have to have a place to store the waste. I think that nuclear power has got to be a vital part of our effort to be independent of foreign oil, and I think it's (Yucca Mountain) a suitable place for storage."

An article in last week's Huffington Post also revealed that one of McCain's top media consultants in his current presidential campaign headed up a nationwide push in 2002 to pressure Senators to vote in favor of the nuclear waste dump in Nevada. []

"John McCain is an unabashed supporter of Yucca Mountain, despite the dire safety concerns associated with the dump. Every time McCain has had an opportunity to make Nevada the nation's nuclear waste dump, he has taken it, with no concerns that Yucca Mountain endangers Nevada's groundwater, or that it would force the unsafe trucking of toxic nuclear waste through communities around the country," said Kirsten Searer, deputy executive director of the Nevada Democratic Party.

"McCain has apparently just realized that his support of Yucca Mountain might cost him a critical swing state, and now he's trying to flip flop," Searer said. "But Nevadans won't let John McCain forget that he has a very clear record of supporting Yucca Mountain."



Release Date: May 27 2008

(Washington D.C. - May 27, 2008) Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) today issued the following statement in support of a petition drive seeking to prevent consideration by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of a license application for the proposed Yucca Mountain repository 90 minutes outside Las Vegas. The text of the petition follows Berkley's statement below:

"We are at a critical moment in our battle to keep nuclear waste out of Nevada. Now is the time to come together as never before and to make our voices heard. I am urging every Nevadan to add his or her name to this petition asking the NRC not to act on a license for Yucca Mountain given the dangers and lack of planning. Yucca Mountain is not safe, the science is flawed, and the transportation risks are too great to ever allow this $80 billion toxic garbage dump to open for business. The NRC has a duty to protect every American who will be put at risk by this scheme and the commissioners should listen to the majority of Nevadans and reject this application," said Berkley.


We, the undersigned, petition the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to reject the Department of Energy's (DOE) license application to construct the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump.

The DOE is proposing to dump 77,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste in Nevada after transporting it through counties home to over 106 million people.

Enduring these nuclear waste shipments will be communities from Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Florida, Arizona, Delaware, West Virginia, Wisconsin, South Dakota and Nevada.

That's 45 states which could host nuclear waste routes. Yet there will be absolutely no public process to review these routes - not by the NRC, not by the DOE, and not even by the U.S. Department of Transportation. This is a massive and dangerous shipping campaign, but the NRC refuses to scrutinize it when considering DOE's application to build the dump.

Furthermore, DOE does not even have complete plans to transport nuclear waste or to build the dump at Yucca Mountain, which is in an earthquake-prone environment. In fact, DOE readily admits that designs for the repository will be at most 35% complete when it asks NRC to license it.

Even worse, the Environmental Protection Agency has not decided what levels of radiation can be "safely leaked" from the dump. EPA has proposed a dangerously lenient radiation standard that completely disregards the health and safety of future generations. But, with less than half the designs for the dump complete, it is preposterous to think that NRC is in a position to decide that a nuclear waste dump could meet EPA's terrible proposed radiation standard.



David Cherry (202) 226-7578

Proof of voter fraud in the USA - from the horse's mouth

First Nations leaders to be released from prison

First Nations leaders to be released from prison: Attorney-General
Canwest News Service Published: Friday, May 23, 2008

http://www. nationalpost. com:80/rss/story. html?id=535888

TORONTO -- Six First Nations leaders will be released from prison today after serving more than two months for ignoring a court order to allow a mining company to drill on their traditional territory, a spokesman for Ontario's Attorney General confirmed Friday.

Six members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation will be back home by this evening after a court granted a motion for a stay pending the appeal of their six-month sentence for contempt, said KI spokeswoman Susan Nanokeesic.

"We are so happy, it's overwhelming," Ms. Nanokeesic said. "This is good news."

The appeal is to be heard Wednesday in Toronto.

The jailing of the leaders in March for disobeying a court order allowing Platinex Inc. to conduct exploratory drilling has drawn harsh criticism from Canadian authors and activists.

Most recently Robert F. Kennedy Jr. sent Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty a letter decrying their incarceration as "appalling."

Earlier this week, Platinex announced it has launched a $70-million lawsuit against the province. The company said it has suffered "substantial wasted expenditures" because it has been unable to gain access to the land near Big Trout Lake in northern Ontario because of actions by KI.

Platinex claims the Ontario government failed in its duty to consult with KI and also failed to warn the company it would not enforce its mining claims.

French nuclear safety agency stops construction of flagship nuclear reactor

French nuclear safety agency stops construction of flagship nuclear reactor

Published on May 27, 2008 - 6:34:10 AM
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By: Greenpeace

Paris, 27 May 2008 - Greenpeace has learned that the French nuclear safety agency, ASN, has ordered construction to be suspended on the concrete base slab of the new European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), Flamanville 3, in northern France.

The EPR would be the world's largest reactor and has been presented as the 'flagship' of a supposed international nuclear renaissance. Flamanville's construction has run into the same kinds of problems plaguing ongoing construction of the only other EPR, Olkiluoto 3, in Finland. The move by ASN follows the agency's discovery of chronic problems affecting the quality of construction work since building work commenced on Flamanville 3 in December 2007.

" The French government should face facts: the European Pressurised Reactor is a failed experiment," says Jan Beránek, nuclear campaigner, Greenpeace International. "It's a dangerous roadblock in the way of safe solutions to energy security and climate change. In order to avert catastrophic climate change we need an energy revolution based upon clean renewable energy sources and energy saving."

ASN's call to halt construction follows a series of letters from the agency to Flamanville's construction manager. In the letters, ASN inspectors highlighted a range of problems including non-conformities in the pinning of the steel framework of the concrete base slab, incorrectly positioned reinforcements, inadequacy of technical inspection by both the construction companies and Electricité de France (EdF). Inspectors also uncovered inconsistencies between the blueprint for reinforcement work and the plan for its practical implementation. The incorrect composition of concrete had been used, that may lead to cracks and rapid deterioration in sea air conditions. Samples of concrete were also not collected properly, according to ASN. Cracks have already been observed at part of the base slab beneath the reactor building. The supplier of the steel containment liner reportedly lacks the necessary qualifications. Fabrication of the liner was continuing despite quality failures demonstrating the lack of competence of the supplier. As a result, one quarter of the welds of the steel liner of the reactor containment building were deficient.

"ASN's decision is extremely important. We are pleased EdF will have to explain what is happening," said Yannick Rousselet, energy campaigner at Greenpeace France. "Experience with the EPRs in France and Finland proves that nuclear power is too risky, too late and too expensive. France and Finland must abandon the EPR now." Problems at Flamanville echo those with the first EPR, Olkiluoto 3, being built in Finland. Olkiluoto has been under construction for three years but has been blighted ever since the concrete was poured. Poor quality concrete, bad welds on the containment liner and low-quality reactor components are among its problems. The schedule for completion has been put back by more than two years and costs have nearly doubled to over Euro 5 billion. "French authorities have taken the course of action that Greenpeace has been demanding in Finland, where there have been persistent breaches of quality control with Olkiluoto," said Lauri Myllyvirta, nuclear campaigner with Greenpeace Finland.

Last week, Greenpeace distributed an "EPR Survival Kit" to delegates at the European Nuclear Energy Forum, in Prague summarising problems with EPRs.

Reid, Porter launch anti-Yucca Mountain petition drive

Reid, Porter launch anti-Yucca Mountain petition drive

Associated Press - May 27, 2008 1:05 PM ET

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada politicians and anti-Yucca Mountain groups are mounting a petition effort against the proposed nuclear waste repository.

Sen. Harry Reid, Congressman Jon Porter and others plan to being circulating the petition Tuesday at a rally at the Clark County Government Center.

The petition voices opposition to the Department of Energy's license application to build the nuclear waste facility 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The license application is expected to be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission next month.

McCain's Nonproliferation Policy -- It's a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

John McCain's speech on nuclear weapons seems to adopt the narrowest of lenses in dealing with nuclear weapons. Moreover, his proposals -- many of which might sound good -- don't match up with other things he has said on nuclear weapons, on Russia, on Iran and suggests he doesn't really get the complexity of these issues. Lastly, the tone may be better, but many of the proposals -- not to mention his language choices -- are right out of George W. Bush's play book. This may be a wolf in sheep's clothing, but it is still a wolf.

1) He wants to work with Russia on arms control and tactical nuclear weapons, but he also wants to kick Russia out of the G-8. Not sure how you get them to play nice on nukes after you kick them in the teeth. Also, Bush adopted a loose standard on counting nuclear weapons and verification. Will McCain (who is now working with John Bolton -- father of Bush's arms control dogma) be any better?

2) I applaud his desire to get tactical nuclear weapons out of Europe, but if we pull nuclear weapons out of Turkey as Iran advances its nuclear program, they are not going to have increased confidence in NATO and the US. This speech, and the references to it, will send shock waves through Europe and and a McCain administration would start in a hole.

3) He does not walk away from the new "reliable replacement warhead" being pitched by the Bush administration. Lots of wiggle room for him, left there on purpose, I would guess.

4) Why is only the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) going to review nuclear policy? Where are the experts on nonproliferation, diplomacy, history, etc? This is the same line the Bush administration gave. In May of 2000, standing in front of Secretary Kissinger and other republican heavy-weights, then-candidate Bush said he would reduce nuclear weapons to the lowest number consistent with U.S. security. Sound familiar? McCain's statement is almost an exact quote. The JCS has set the current floor on reductions. The president sets the war guidance for the level of nuclear weapons, and leaving it to the JCS is a recipe for the status quo.

5) Did anyone else notice that McCain did not repudiate the policy of regime change? I know why Iran and North Korea want nuclear weapons. Reducing ours will not get them to change their course. Of course, singing "bomb bomb Iran" to the tune of "Barbara Ann" won't do it either. Is McCain really suggesting cutting our nukes will lead others to reduce theirs? It's the broader policy that needs changing, not just the number of nukes.

6) Coming out of left field (or from pander-ville) is the remark about international nuclear storage. It is possible that Russia might build a storage facility for countries in East Asia, but McCain seems to be suggesting some other country is going to accept our huge (the world's largest) stock of spent fuel and that this might be a way to avoid opening the spent fuel repository in Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Talk about pandering. Who does he think is going to take our nuclear waste? Even if someone would take it off our hands, the stuff contains about 100,000 weapons worth of plutonium that must be dealt with. Does McCain really want to export that to a country poor enough to want into the nuclear waste storage business?

7) Either you are for the ban on nuclear testing or you are not. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is the most studied arms control agreement in history. It has been verifiable since the 1960s. McCain voted against it. To play the "let's study it again" dance is too cute by half. If the president does not support it, it is not going to happen. Also, McCain seems to be suggesting we should re-open the agreement for new modifications. That is the fastest way to kill it. He also talks about limiting testing. We want to ban testing. We have more nuclear expertise than anyone -- why we would want to make the world safe for others to test nuclear weapons is unclear. Obama and Clinton have said they are for the CTBT and plan to fight for its ratification. McCain has not. The rest of the world -- including the states we need on our side to deal with Iran and North Korea -- are embarrassed that we have not ratified it.

McCain's speech is a feeble attempt to try to tie all Republicans and Democrats into the failures of the Bush administration nuclear policies. Before 2000, the US was on the right track. The regime needed work, but was sound -- more states had given up nuclear weapons and weapon programs in the 1980s and 90s than had begun them. Now that track record lies in ashes -- because of the Bush administration approach, backed by a Republican Congress that killed the CTBT and sought to restrict funding for nuclear security efforts during 2000-2004. McCain is promising more of the same.