Saturday, July 5, 2008

Nuclear disarmament will avoid obliteration of humans

Nuclear disarmament will avoid obliteration of humans

Bishop John C. Wester

Click photo to enlarge
Bishop John Wester
Six armed nuclear weapons were unwittingly flown across the country and four high-tech electrical fuses for Minuteman nuclear warheads were mistakenly sent to Taiwan. These recent revelations raise our awareness of the dangers inherent in the continuing presence of our country's arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Hopefully, such mishaps inspire an exacting tightening of procedures. It is also an opportunity to challenge the policy of maintaining such a redundant number.
I would like to add a religious perspective to the detailed proposals made by a number of leading national security experts and endorsed recently by Utah's former Sen. Jake Garn and Professor John Bennion ("Curbing the global threat," Opinion, May 24).
In his Jan. 1 World Day of Peace message, Pope Benedict XVI referred to the danger of nuclear weapons in paragraph 14: "Humanity today is unfortunately experiencing great division and sharp conflicts which cast dark shadows on its future. Vast areas of the world are caught up in situations of increasing tension, while the danger of an increase in the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons causes well-founded apprehension in every responsible person.
"In difficult times such as these, it is truly necessary for all persons of good will to come together to reach concrete agreements aided at an effective demilitarization, especially in the area of nuclear arms. At a time

when the process of nuclear non-proliferation is at a stand-still, I feel bound to entreat those in authority to resume with greater determination negotiations for a progressive and mutually agreed dismantling of existing nuclear weapons. In renewing this appeal, I know that I am echoing the desire of all those concerned for the future of humanity."
These remarks built on his 2007 World Day of Peace statement: "Another disturbing issue is the desire recently shown by some states to acquire nuclear weapons. This has heightened even more the widespread climate of uncertainty and fear of a possible atomic catastrophe. We are brought back in time to the profound anxieties of the 'cold war' period. When it came to an end, there was hope that the atomic peril had been definitively overcome and that mankind could finally breathe a lasting sigh of relief.
"How timely, in this regard, is the warning of the Second Vatican Council that 'every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and humanity, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.' Unfortunately, threatening clouds continue to gather on humanity's horizon.
"The way to ensure a future of peace for everyone is found not only in international accords for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, but also in the determined commitment to seek their reduction and definitive dismantling. May every attempt be made to arrive through negotiation at the attainment of these objectives! The fate of the whole human family is at stake!"
Both of these statements have roots in the 1963 papal encyclical by Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth). The Catholic tradition on war and peace is a long and complex one, reaching back to the Sermon on the Mount. At the center of the church's teaching are the transcendence of God and the dignity of the human person.
Each human life is sacred; modern warfare threatens the obliteration of human life and thus the need to speak out.
In their l983 document, "The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response," the United States Catholic Bishops stated that peacemaking is not an optional commitment but a requirement of our faith.
"We are called to be peacemakers, not by some movement of the moment, but by our Lord Jesus." Twenty-five years later, those pleas are even more appropriate. For believers, our faith can give us hope and hope can be a resource for action and a source of strength in this demanding cause.
In my second year of living here, as I learn more of the devastating health effects on many Utah citizens living downwind of our nation's Nevada nuclear test site, I believe that our state should be a leader in promoting public policy that leads to the end of nuclear weapons development and the total elimination of existing nuclear weapons.
I thank all those who have spoken out and I pray that more Utahns will add their voices to the effort to abolish nuclear weapons.
* MOST REV. JOHN C. WESTER is bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.

Downwinders still face denials by U.S. and French governments

Denials of the health effects caused by nuclear testing fallout by government officials of nuclear-weapons-states is a persisting problem across the globe. In recent news, in the U.S., the Atomic Testing Museum located in Las Vegas apparently has sent to editors of small and medium newspapers across the U.S. a pre-written travel feature story about the museum that contains no references to downwinders or health effects of atomic testing. The article makes a number of shocking statements that you can read in the latest reprint here

The piece has been reproduced in the following papers in June and July: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, and Macon Telegraph (GA); Belleville News Democrat; San Luis Obispo Tribune (CA); The Olympian (WA); The Ledger (FL); Boston Herald; and Philadelphia Daily News.

In March 2005 a group of downwinder activists wrote a letter to the director of the Atomic Testing Museum requesting remedy to the failure of the Museum to properly address the 'far-reaching and devastating consequences for tens of thousands of Americans living downwind.'
The letter stated that 'the story of those Americans who were harmed by the fallout from nuclear testing is not adequately featured' in the museum's exhibits. The group requested that an additional wing be established to fulfill the museum's stated purpose, which is 'to consolidate and preserve the history of this nation’s nuclear testing program.' The group noted that nuclear testing history cannot be complete 'unless it prominently includes the history of downwinders.'

The museum hasn't met the group's demands nor has the museum's communications, evidenced in its pre-written feature story that is being read by millions this summer, demonstrated anything but denial of the health impacts from the U.S. atomic testing program.
Read the letter here: <<>>

Downwinders in the U.S. are not alone in facing denials by government officials of the link between testing fallout and resulting health problems and deaths. French Polynesians, victims of fallout by French atomic testing in the Pacific, have their own persisting problems as evidenced in this July 2nd article below:

French Polynesian veterans angered by French denial of nuclear fall-out

02 July, 2008
Radio New Zealand International

French Polynesia’s Nuclear Workers’ Association says it will no longer deal with the French nuclear safety official after he said that the fallout from the nuclear weapons tests was not the cause of illnesses.

The Association Moruroa o Tatou says the comments made by Marcel Jurien de la Graviere are lies as official documents recorded the contamination of water, fish and vegetables in the French Polynesian test zone.

The Association’s president, Roland Oldham, says Mr de la Graviere keeps denying the situation despite the evidence and the 16 court cases in France which established a link between the blasts and the poor health or deaths of those exposed to the fallout.

During a visit to French Polynesia last week, Mr de la Graviere told reporters that the only recognised conditions concerned thyroid problems of people who were under the age of 15 at the time.

This week marks the 42nd anniversary of the first French nuclear weapons test in the Pacific.

The last of the nearly 190 French tests was carried out in 1996.

Friday, July 4, 2008

India left gives nuclear deadline

India left gives nuclear deadline

Protests against the nuclear deal in India
The Communists have opposed the deal

Communist allies of India's government have given it a deadline to say if it will proceed with the civilian nuclear deal with the US.

The Communists, who say they will withdraw support from the government if it goes ahead with the deal, want the government to inform them by Monday.

The Communists have 59 members in the lower house of the parliament.

They say the deal would give the US undue influence over India's foreign and nuclear policy.

India is under pressure from Washington to sign the deal before the US presidential elections in November.

The government is holding talks with another party to bolster its support.

Reports suggest that the Congress party-led coalition would go ahead with the deal.

India's foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon has said that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet US President George W Bush on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Correspondents say Mr Singh is expected to tell Mr Bush that India would be going ahead with the deal despite the opposition from its allies.

The deal now needs to be approved by the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as well as by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which regulates global civilian nuclear trade.

Then it has to be presented to the US Congress for final approval.


The Communist allies met on Friday to discuss the "modalities" of withdrawing support to the government.

"We wish to know definitely whether the government is proceeding to seek the approval of the safeguards agreement by the board of governors of the IAEA," said Prakash Karat, head of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), reading out a letter addressed to the government.

"Please let us know the position by July 7, 2008."

The Congress says it will not be bound by the demand. "Sovereign governments or political parties cannot be subjected to deadlines," said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi

Another Communist leader AB Bardhan said there was no confusion about the Communists withdrawing support if the government went ahead with the deal.

"Only modalities like timing and writing to the president will have to be decided," he said.

Analysts say the decision to withdraw support could come in the next few days, plunging India into a fresh round of political uncertainty.

India nuclear station
India has 14 reactors in commercial operation and nine under construction
Nuclear power supplies about 3% of India's electricity
By 2050, nuclear power is expected to provide 25% of the country's electricity
India has limited coal and uranium reserves
Its huge thorium reserves - about 25% of the world's total - are expected to fuel its nuclear power programme long-term
Source: Uranium Information Center

Separately, the Congress party is holding talks with the regional Samajwadi Party on Friday to secure its support for the deal to compensate for the loss of its Communist allies.

If the Communists withdraw support, the ruling coalition would be reduced to 226 members in the 543-member parliament, a good 46 seats behind the majority mark of 272.

The Samajwadi Party, which has been a traditional political foe of the Congress, has hinted that its 39 MPs could end up supporting the ruling coalition on the nuclear deal issue.

If that happens, the ruling coalition will mop up the support of 265 MPs - only seven short of a majority.

Analysts say that securing the support another seven members will not be a problem as there are a number of "fence-sitters" from other smaller parties.

'Time running out'

Such an eventuality would help avoid early elections even after the Communists pull the plug on the government, they say.

Meanwhile, a delegation of US legislators visiting India have said that "time is running out for the deal".

"We are hopeful that the processes will move quickly," delegation leader Gary Ackerman said.

Reports say that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is believed to be the architect of the controversial deal, wants to proceed with it before the G8 summit beginning on Monday in Japan.

Under the terms of the controversial deal, India would get access to US civilian nuclear technology and fuel.

In return, Delhi would open its civilian nuclear facilities to inspection - but its nuclear weapons sites would remain off-limits.

US President George W Bush finalised the nuclear agreement with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in July 2005.

It overturned three decades of US policy by allowing the sale of nuclear technology and fuel to India.

With President Bush's second and final term in office drawing to a close and presidential elections set for November, the Bush administration is growing increasingly keen to wrap up the deal.

Many analysts and some within the Bush administration believe a failure to conclude the agreement could create a setback for the current momentum in US-India relations.

NSW Health 'knew home's radiation risk'

NSW health authorities knew a Sydney home had unsafe levels of radiation but did not inform the residents - one of whom has since developed cancer, a NSW inquiry has been told.

Benjamin Nurse and his daughter Julienne Nurse say the NSW health department was aware their home in Nelson Parade, Hunters Hill, had unsafe levels of radiation related to a uranium smelter that had once operated nearby.

However, they told the NSW parliamentary inquiry the unsafe radiation levels were concealed from them.

The inquiry was told radiation tests early this year deemed a bedroom of the Nurse's house to be a radiation "hot pot".

That bedroom was formerly occupied by Danielle Nurse, who developed thyroid cancer two years ago.

The family lived at 11 Nelson Parade from 1973 to 1980, when they learned their neighbour had been diagnosed with leukaemia - one of five reported cancer cases in their street.

Mr Nurse told the inquiry that when he bought the house, the NSW health department issued a certificate deeming it to be safe for habitation.

His daughter Julienne went on to challenge a subsequent report by the health department that stated radon gas testing had been done at their property in 1977 and it was found to be within safe levels.

Radon is a colourless gas that forms from the decay of radium, which was extracted from uranium ore at the smelter.

It is more harmful than exposure to the more common gamma radiation.

"We don't recall anyone ever entering our house to do radon tests," Ms Nurse told the inquiry.

"If there were conducted, they were done on the land and not shown to us."

She also said the department determined their home should be monitored, but had failed to do so.

"There is one internal letter from within the department of health stating that a radon monitor should be put inside the house," Ms Nurse said.

"But within two weeks of that we were told not to worry about any radon tests, not to worry about any medical tests, that our health was completely safe."

The department bought the Nurse's home in 1980 for $250,000, which was one-third the price of neighbouring homes at the time, Mr Nurse said.

Over the years it also purchased numbers 7 and 9 Nelson Pde, which have remained vacant and are planned for clean-up.

Remediation was carried out on number 11 in 1987 and this was later sold in 1989 after it was deemed safe by the health department.

The current residents, who bought in 2001, left the house vacant in February.

They are demanding their property also be cleaned-up following tests they commissioned from a private company, Australian Radiation Services.

ARS health physicist Joe Young told the inquiry on Friday that number 11 registered radiation levels up to 350 times the normal level detected in the suburb, and four times the normal level of gamma radiation.

NSW Health commissioned the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) this year to perform tests, and they returned results similar to that of ARS.

Civil engineer Gavin Mudd estimated that 2,000 to 3,000 tonnes of soil and other material suspected of being tainted with radium, heavy metals and chemicals from the smelter operations should be removed.

"It's a high profile area, it's something with residents around, so I don't think it would be easily done in that sense".

Thursday, July 3, 2008


By Joseph K. Cooper - June 4, 2008 - 10:37am

(Washington D.C. - June 3, 2008) Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) today responded to remarks by Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman touting the submission of a License Application (LA) for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump 90 minutes outside Las Vegas. The document was sent today by the Department of Energy (DOE) to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for review. Bodman spoke at a news conference in Washington, D.C. this afternoon.

"The real news here is that after more than 20 years, Yucca Mountain is still decades behind schedule and its price tag has grown to $80 billion," said Berkley. "The Bush White House knows the sun is about to set on its dreams of turning Nevada into a nuclear waste dump. As a result, they are desperate to show progress is being made, even as Yucca's timetable has now slipped to 2020 or beyond. The clock is ticking on the future of Yucca Mountain and one thing is certain, come next January, there will be a new occupant in the Oval office. I hope that change will mark the end of this failed project once and for all," said Berkley.

Berkley also responded to a call by Secretary Bodman for action on a so-called "fix Yucca" bill that would weaken regulations governing the dump and loosen Congressional controls over spending on the proposed repository.

"Secretary Bodman again called for action on a 'fix Yucca' bill that would gut health and safety standards for the dump and would tie the hands of Congress when it comes to oversight of spending. This reckless legislation has gone nowhere since being introduced and I will continue working with Senator Reid and my colleagues in the House to make sure it stays that way."

Legislation cosponsored by Berkley would allow nuclear waste to be safely stored at power plant sites hardened for protection, eliminating the need for waste to be moved to Yucca Mountain.

At the nuclear crossroads:

At the nuclear crossroads: How much longer will the 'have-nots' wait for the 'haves' to do what they promised?

This year is full to bursting with remembrances of the many historic events that took place during the epochal year of 1968. The Tet offensive in Vietnam. The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. The melee at the Chicago Democratic convention. The Mexico City Olympics and the black power salutes of Tommie Smith and John Carlos. And, on Christmas Eve, the flight of Apollo 8 from the Earth to the moon, and the first glimpse we had ever been granted -- gathered around televisions in perhaps the greatest collective experience in history -- of our single, borderless, breathtaking planet, lonely and fragile and whole, suspended among the blazing stars.

Yet the 1968 anniversary that we celebrate today may have consequences greater than any of these.

Forty years ago this week, on July 1, 1968, in Washington, London and Moscow, world leaders signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The grand bargain of the NPT was that the non-nuclear weapon states agreed never to produce or acquire nuclear weapons, and the nuclear weapon states agreed eventually to get rid of theirs.

No, that is not a misprint. Forty years ago, our government committed itself to negotiate the elimination of its entire nuclear arsenal. And, with the other nuclear weapon states, to abolish nuclear weapons from the face of the earth forever.

Indeed, the nuclear weapon states have repeatedly restated their intention to fulfill that promise. The treaty entered into force in 1970. At the 25-year NPT Review Conference in 1995, they committed again ''to systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons.'' At the 30-year NPT Review Conference in 2000, they committed yet again to make ''an unequivocal undertaking -- to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.'' And the World Court concluded unanimously that the NPT had created ``an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects.''

So the grand issue facing the NPT regime today is how much longer the "have-nots" will keep their end of the bargain if the ''haves'' do not even move toward fulfilling theirs.

The Bush Administration has concentrated enormous diplomatic firepower on keeping North Korea and Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. However, at the same time, the administration is proceeding to build something called a ''reliable replacement warhead'' that will eventually replace every nuclear warhead category in the U.S. arsenal. And during its very first year in office, in its Nuclear Posture Review, the Bush administration set in motion plans to deploy a new long-range missile to deliver nuclear weapons in 2020, a new submarine to deliver nuclear weapons in 2030 and a new long-range heavy bomber to deliver nuclear weapons in 2040.

Just in time for the 2045 centennial of the dawn of the Atomic Age.

We may, in the next decade or so, see the fulfillment of the NPT's grand bargain and the elimination, at last, of every nuclear weapon from the face of the Earth. Alternatively, we may see the nuclear weapon states continue indefinitely to stall. If they do, several non-nuclear weapon states will almost certainly give up on the NPT bargain and will set us on the road toward 10, 15 or 25 nuclear weapon states.

That will provide that many more opportunities for a nuclear warhead to find its way into the hands of a non-state nuclear terrorist. Or for a hot political crisis between nuclear-armed adversaries to spin wildly out of control. Or for some rogue military officer to push the nuclear button out of malevolence or mental unbalance. Or for a nuclear warhead to be launched utterly by accident. (Astonishingly, experts believe this remains a real possibility, even for the United States or Russia.) Or name your own scenario for Armageddon.

The basic choice remains, as Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell put it in 1955, ''stark and dreadful and inescapable'' -- a world with dozens of nuclear weapon states, or the alternative of a nuclear weapon-free world. As Abraham Lincoln said about a nation half slave and half free, a world with a few nuclear ''haves'' and a great many nuclear ''have-nots'' cannot forever endure.

Tad Daley is a writing fellow with International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War,, winner of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.

Tesla Article from BBC- please follow link ay bottom of page

Tesla inherited from his father a deep hatred of war. Throughout his life, he sought a technological way to end warfare. He thought that war could be converted into, "a mere spectacle of machines."

In 1931 Tesla announced to reporters at a press conference that he was on the verge of discovering an entirely new source of energy. Asked to explain the nature of the power, he replied, "The idea first came upon me as a tremendous shock... I can only say at this time that it will come from an entirely new and unsuspected source."

War clouds were again darkening Europe. On 11 July 1934 the headline on the front page of the New York Times read, "TESLA, AT 78, BARES NEW 'DEATH BEAM.'" The article reported that the new invention "will send concentrated beams of particles through the free air, of such tremendous energy that they will bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 250 miles..." Tesla stated that the death beam would make war impossible by offering every country an "invisible Chinese wall."

The idea generated considerable interest and controversy. Tesla went immediately to J. P. Morgan, Jr. in search of financing to build a prototype of his invention. Morgan was unconvinced. Tesla also attempted to deal directly with Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of Great Britain. But when Chamberlain resigned upon discovering that he had been out-maneuvered by Hitler at Munich, interest in Tesla's anti-war weapon eventually collapsed.

By 1937 it was clear that war would soon break out in Europe. Frustrated in his attempts to generate interest and financing for his "peace beam," he sent an elaborate technical paper, including diagrams, to a number of Allied nations including the United States, Canada, England, France, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. Titled "New Art of Projecting Concentrated Non-Dispersive Energy Through Natural Media," the paper provided the first technical description of what is today called a charged particle beam weapon.

What set Tesla's proposal apart from the usual run of fantasy "death rays" was a unique vacuum chamber with one end open to the atmosphere. Tesla devised a unique vacuum seal by directing a high-velocity air stream at the tip of his gun to maintain "high vacua." The necessary pumping action would be accomplished with a large Tesla turbine.

Of all the countries to receive Tesla's proposal, the greatest interest came from the Soviet Union. In 1937 Tesla presented a plan to the Amtorg Trading Corporation, an alleged Soviet arms front in New York City. Two years later, in 1939, one stage of the plan was tested in the USSR and Tesla received a check for $25,000.

Tesla hoped that his invention would be used for purely defensive purposes, and thus would become an anti-war machine. His system required a series of power plants located along a country's coast that would scan the skies in search of enemy aircraft. Since the beam was projected in a straight line, it was only effective for about 200 miles — the distance of the curvature of the earth.

Tesla also contemplated peacetime applications for his particle beam, one being to transmit power without wires over long distances. Another radical notion he proposed was to heat up portions of the upper atmosphere to light the sky at night — a man-made aurora borealis.

Whether Tesla's idea was ever taken seriously is still a mater of conjecture. Most experts today consider his idea infeasible. Though, his death beam bears an uncanny resemblance to the charged-particle beam weapon developed by both the United States and the Soviet Union during the cold war.

Nonetheless, Tesla's dream for a technological means to end war seems as impossible now as it did when he proposed the idea in the 1930s.

Next Page | Life and Legacy Index

INL's waste problem has its roots in Cold War practices


Edition Date: 07/03/08

Behind the Cold War's curtain of secrecy, federal scientists and engineers settled for shortsighted, inadequate practices to dispose of the long-lived, deadly nuclear materials produced by reactors and processing plants.

Today, federal taxpayers are paying the price to clean it up at the Idaho National Laboratory. Plutonium-contaminated tools, clothes and debris packed in barrels and cardboard boxes were dumped with hazardous chemicals in trenches and buried atop the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer, the water source for most of southern Idaho.

The Atomic Energy Commission, the predecessor of the Department of Energy, chose the floodplain sediments at the end of the Lost River to bury radioactive materials such as plutonium. It was a decision Idahoans have struggled with since.

In 1953, the commission decided to ship plutonium-contaminated waste to Idaho from its Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant near Denver. Trains brought thousands of barrels of contaminated tools, clothes and other debris along with industrial solvents and toxic chemicals that would remain dangerous for more than 10,000 years. The waste was buried without any environmental impact studies.

In 1962, 2 inches of rain fell on top of 8 inches of snow in three days, sending a torrent of water down the Lost River and into the trenches of nuclear waste. Barrels floated to the surface. Gloves, sample bottles and other debris were found in undeveloped areas outside the complex.

At other times, barrels filled with volatile chemicals exploded and burned. That prompted workers to shoot the barrels to allow the explosions to take place under controlled conditions.

So much waste was coming in from Rocky Flats that managers decided to quit stacking barrels to minimize costs and reduce radiation exposure. They dumped the barrels, instead.

A labor strike forced managers to unload waste themselves, so they lost control over the inventory of the waste they were burying, a 1979 DOE report said.

A 1966 report by the National Academy of Sciences predicted radioactive material or organic chemicals would seep from corroding steel drums through fractured basalt into the aquifer. But it took a plutonium fire in 1969 at Rocky Flats to draw the attention necessary to get action. The fire caused an increase in waste shipments to Idaho, which in turn caught the attention of then-U.S. Sen. Frank Church of Idaho.

He asked four federal agencies to review the waste burial. The studies confirmed the earlier reports that burying plutonium over the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer was unwise. Another flood in 1969 inundated the trenches again, adding urgency to the message.

Church and newly elected Gov. Cecil Andrus wrote Atomic Energy Commission Director Dixie Lee Ray, urging her to quit burying the waste and to begin planning to ship it out of Idaho. Ray, later the governor of Washington, agreed and announced plans to start shipping it in a decade.

"She didn't say what decade," Andrus often quipped.

The agency quit burying waste in trenches in 1972, storing it instead above-ground on concrete slabs covered with soil. In 1979, the Department of Energy chose the proposed Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M., as the final resting place for plutonium waste - including that buried at the INL.

In 1991, the Department of Energy signed an agreement with the state and EPA that laid out a process for deciding what to do about all of its waste, including the buried plutonium-contaminated waste. In 1995, Gov. Phil Batt signed an agreement with the Department of Energy that committed it to begin shipping the plutonium-contaminated waste to New Mexico in 1999, which it did.

Making Nevada A World Leader In Clean Renewable Energy

Making Nevada A World Leader In Clean Renewable Energy

July 1, 2008

Nevada Senator Harry Reid, UNLV President David Ashley and the Center for American Progress Action Fund announced this week their partnership in hosting the National Clean Energy Conference, to be held at UNLV on Tuesday, August 19. This summit will bring together major industry leaders, scientists, policy experts, citizens and the media to participate in a dialog about our nation’s clean energy future.

“I am hopeful that this event will result in some consensus ideas and principles that participants can carry to the parties’ political conventions and on into the next Administration. As the Majority Leader, clean energy -- and Nevada’s central role in this revolution -- will be a top legislative priority of mine for the next Congress,” said Senator Reid. Senator Reid believes Nevada can be the world leader in clean renewable energy, drawing upon its vast solar, wind and geothermal resources to provide clean, stable power while creating thousands of jobs for our state’s economy. For more information on the summit click here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Reid says McCain echoes Bush in talk of Yucca Mountain

Reid says McCain echoes Bush in talk of Yucca Mountain

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday that Republican presidential candidate John McCain is saying the same things about Yucca Mountain that President Bush once did, and Nevadans should not be fooled.

"That's what George Bush said, remember, and he'd been president for a couple of weeks when he decided science wasn't so important and jammed it down our throat," the Senate majority leader said in an interview.

"John McCain has voted with the proponents of Yucca Mountain every time, without any question," Reid continued. "If he's president, Yucca Mountain would be a reality."

During a campaign stop in Nevada last week, McCain said he would base decisions on the project on science and make sure it met environmental and safety standards. While saying he still supported the proposed nuclear waste repository 100 miles outside Las Vegas, the Arizona senator expressed doubt that it would ever clear regulatory and legal hurdles and actually be built.

"You have to go through the process," McCain said in an interview last week. "In the past history of this country, we have made too many errors that have damaged our environment and people's lives."

Reid said he heard in McCain's words an attempt to have the issue both ways and echoes of the campaign promises of George W. Bush.

During the campaigns of 2000 and 2004, Yucca Mountain was a major point of contention as the candidates campaigned in Nevada. Both times, "sound science" was Bush's trademark as he vowed to move the project forward based on the evidence.

"I believe sound science, and not politics, must prevail in the designation of any high-level nuclear waste repository," Bush wrote in a letter to Nevada's then-Gov. Kenny Guinn dated May 3, 2000. "As President, I would not sign legislation that would send nuclear waste to any proposed site unless it's been deemed scientifically safe. I also believe the federal government must work with the local and state governments that will be affected to address safety and transportation issues."

On Feb. 14, 2002, Bush recommended Yucca as the site for 77,000 tons of radioactive waste based on studies by the Department of Energy.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, Democrat John Kerry highlighted the move, which he called a broken promise. Bush again used "sound science" as his byword to claim that he would only go forward with the project if it was shown to be safe.

Bush narrowly won the state, and his administration has continued to push forward with the repository. To the state of Nevada, which maintains an official position against the project, the promise to adhere to the evidence has not been kept.

"We refer to the (Department of Energy's) kind of science as advocacy science," said Bob Loux, executive director of the state's Nuclear Projects Agency. "That's when you only go about collecting the data and information that makes your case, and ignore other data that suggests the opposite."

Loux noted that the Energy Department recently submitted its license application for the site despite the fact that a court in 2004 threw out proposed health and safety standards. "So we really don't even know what standards Yucca Mountain is supposed to meet," Loux said.

In a Review-Journal poll conducted last month, 52 percent of Nevadans said a candidates' stance on Yucca Mountain would have at least some influence on how they vote.

While Reid accused McCain of softening his rhetoric for political purposes, a McCain campaign spokesman denied the charge.

"That implies that the senator (McCain) has changed his position when he hasn't," Rick Gorka said. "Senator McCain believes that Yucca Mountain is necessary, but he wants to ensure that it's environmentally safe and sound. The senator has always said there is a need for Yucca Mountain, but it needs to be based on sound science."

Gorka charged that it is McCain's opponent, Democrat Barack Obama, who has tried to have it both ways on the issue. Obama has said he would end the project.

Gorka pointed to a massive 2005 energy bill that contained $557 million in funding for Yucca. "When Senator Obama votes for that, it contradicts Obama's message," he said. "You can say you would kill it in an election year, but in 2005 you vote for $557 million to fund it? That is, to me, a glaring change in his position."

Both Nevada senators, Reid and Republican John Ensign, voted for the bill, which Reid had worked to trim by $150 million from the amount Bush originally requested for Yucca.

Obama spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said Obama's vote on the bill did not represent a vote in favor of Yucca Mountain, which he has consistently opposed.

Senator against waste import

Senator against waste import

Alexander moves to bar incoming nuclear leftovers

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced Tuesday he will co-sponsor legislation in the Senate to bar the importation of foreign nuclear waste.

The legislation, which apparently will be introduced after the Senate returns from recess, is designed to prevent the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from allowing EnergySolutions to import up to 20,000 tons of low-level radioactive waste from Italy. The company wants to transport the waste to its Oak Ridge plant for processing and then dispose of the remnants at its nuclear landfill at Clive, Utah.

Alexander's bill is similar to one introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year by U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., and others.

In a statement distributed to the news media, Alexander said, "There is no reason to take in the world's low-level nuclear waste when we have not figured out what to do with our own. I agree with Congressman Gordon that the United States shouldn't become the world's nuclear garbage dump."

The Senate bill is being introduced by Alexander and U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland. Both are members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Jill Sigal, EnergySolutions' senior vice president for government relations, said the legislation is misguided.

"We believe the legislation, just like the House legislation, is unnecessary," Sigal said Tuesday in a telephone interview from Wyoming. "We don't believe that Congress should strip the NRC of its jurisdiction. The NRC bases its decisions on safety and health issues, and we have full confidence in the NRC to do its job."

The NRC is reviewing the company's application for an import license. The public comment period closed in mid-June, but the NRC is considering holding a public hearing on the proposed project.

U.S. Denies Request to Block NV Nuclear Waste Railroad

U.S. Denies Request to Block NV Nuclear Waste Railroad

Wednesday July 2, 2008
A request by the State of Nevada to reject a U.S. Departement of Energy application to build and operate a railroad for the delivery of radioactive nuclear waste to the proposed Yucca Mountain national nuclear waste repository has been denied by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

To be known as the Caliente Line, the 300-mile railroad would connect the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility to an existing line near Caliente, Nevada. According to the DOE application, the railroad would carry spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste to Yucca Mountain. The proposed Caliente Line would run through or near the Nevada towns of Tonopah, Goldfield, Beatty and Amargosa Valley.

After 20-years of environmental and engineering study, spiked by almost constant protest, the Department of Energy officially submitted its application for a license to construct the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on June 3, 2008.

Senators join effort to block EnergySolutions' nuke waste imports plan

Senators join effort to block EnergySolutions' nuke waste imports plan
America's landfills for low-level nuclear waste should be conserved for America's waste, according to a new, bipartisan bill to be introduced next week in the U.S. Senate.
The bill targets efforts by Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions to use its Tooele County landfill for contaminated cleanup waste from Italy's defunct nuclear reactors and maybe other foreign waste in the future. And it echoes a bill proposed in the House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and two colleagues.
U.S. Sens. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said their bill would ban waste generated in foreign nations from being imported into the United States. It also would allow the president to grant specific exemptions only if the importation would serve a crucial national or international policy goal.
"Reserving the capacity at the Utah site for waste generated in our own country, before we import waste from other countries, makes good common sense and good public policy," said Cardin.
"There is no reason to take in the world's low-level nuclear waste when we have not figured out what to do with our own," added Alexander.
EnergySolutions applied last fall for a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to import 20,000 tons of waste from Italy, process most of it in Tennessee and bury about 1,600 tons in its mile-square low-level radioactive
waste landfill about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City. More than 2,000 citizens and the state of Utah have voiced their objections to the NRC about the import license.
Company spokesman John Ward called the legislation "unnecessary". "We don't believe that Congress should strip the NRC of its jurisdiction," he said, noting that the agency considers health and safety questions about proposed imports.
The senators, however, pointed to a lawsuit EnergySolutions has filed to challenge the authority of the regional panel that manages low-level waste in 11 western states. They said their bill would clarify and give certainty to the nation's policy.
Matheson welcomed the Senate bill, which does not include Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett as co-sponsors. He said there is "a chance" supporters can get the bill passed in the remaining seven weeks of the congressional session.
"There is a lot of bipartisan momentum in the House and the Senate for a ban on foreign waste," he said.
Original co-sponsors of the House version are Reps. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.

* A bipartisan House bill to ban foreign nuclear waste imports now has companion legislation in the Senate, boosting the chances of a congressional ban this year

Federal board rebuffs opposition to rail application

Federal board rebuffs opposition to rail application

Agency seeks to build Yucca Mountain line

WASHINGTON -- The federal railroad board has said it will consider the Department of Energy's bid to build a nuclear waste rail line to Yucca Mountain, setting aside a Nevada protest that the application was incomplete.

The Surface Transportation Board denied Nevada's demand that it turn away DOE's application to build and operate a 300-mile railroad from Caliente across rural Nevada to the repository site. The board ruled on June 27.

Paul Lamboley, a Reno transportation attorney working for Nevada, said Tuesday the state was considering options for possible appeal.

Attorneys for the state had argued the DOE rail application lacked an operating plan, safety plans and a meaningful analysis of terrorism risks. They questioned the adequacy of environmental material included in the application.

Critics of the proposed nuclear waste repository charge DOE is rushing to get the ball rolling on Yucca Mountain applications before the nuclear-friendly Bush administration leaves office at the end of the year.

But the three-member rail board said DOE had submitted sufficient information to move forward with a more detailed review. The department could not be expected to provide everything at this point, still several years away from operation, they said.

The board also rejected Nevada's complaint that it had no jurisdiction over the Yucca Mountain project.

The Surface Transportation Board regulates "common carrier" railroads that offer services to the public.

The Department of Energy has yet to declare whether to offer use of the Nevada rail to ranchers and farmers or to operate the line as a private railroad.

The distinction could be important. If DOE declares its Nevada line as private rail, it would fall under state jurisdiction and give Nevada officials opportunities to block it through police, water and land use regulations.

In its seven-page ruling, the board said that made little difference at this point whether DOE has made the decision.

"While DOE may not have made a final decision as to whether to have common carrier service on the proposed Caliente line, such uncertainty does not deprive this agency of jurisdiction," the panel said.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008