It was always a terrible name – The Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision. Ever since the first cupful of deadly nuclear waste was generated at Chicago’s Fermi reactor, on December 2, 1942, no one has ever had the slightest ounce of confidence about what to do with it. It was the ultimate kick-the-can-down-the-road decision. Make radioactive waste now. Worry about the disposal problem later.
Now it’s later and no permanent, safe location or technology has ever been found – and may never be found – to isolate even that first cupful of radioactive waste from the biosphere. Instead, we have a mountain of radioactive waste 70 years high.
Yet the Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision (NWCD), first established in 1984 and last updated in 2010, held that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) – the agency responsible for licensing reactors – had “confidence” that an acceptable plan would someday be found.
Even after the proposed Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump plan was abandoned, the NRC still maintained that a suitable repository would be found “when necessary.”
This, despite the fact that all of the high-level commercial radioactive waste generated by US reactors sits at the reactor sites, either in indoor pools while it waits at least five years to cool, or in what are known as outdoor “dry casks,” stored on site, effectively in parking lots.
On June 8, the US Court of Appeals in DC put an end to such bullish “confidence.” In vacating the NWCD, the Court ruled that the NRC has to re-evaluate the environmental impacts of the storage and disposal of nuclear waste, effectively forcing the agency to examine the environmental consequences of producing highly radioactive nuclear waste without a long-term disposal solution. The Court’s decision also questioned whether irradiated fuel can safely be stored on site at nuclear plants for an additional 60 years after the expiration of a plant’s 60-year license.
The ruling opens several important doors. It allows the public to challenge the environmental integrity of storing radioactive waste at reactor sites. It puts a freeze on the final issuance of extended or new reactor licenses – for those still operating and for those not yet built. And it presents an opportunity to once again push for securing radioactive waste on site, at least temporarily, but in a more protective and robust manner.
Reactor fuel pools are so tightly packed with fuel rods that extraordinary precautions must be taken to prevent an inadvertent chain reaction. US reactor fuel pools still contain at least 75% of all the irradiated fuel generated since 1957, the year of the first commercial reactor at Shippingport, in Pa. The Fermi-One reactor in Michigan, that produced weapons-grade material from 1966-1972, still contains more than 10,000 tons of waste with permanent disposal solution.
As fuel pools filled up, fuel rods at some of the nation’s commercial nuclear power plants were transferred to concrete and/or metal casks, stored outdoors. But the casks are of questionable quality. Some have experienced hydrogen explosions and fires. The NRC does not require the casks to be directly monitored for over-heating, radiological releases and other safety issues. During the August 2011 5.8 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter near the North Anna reactors in Virginia, 115-ton outdoor casks there shifted precariously and suffered damage.
Close to 200 environmental groups have urged for years that fuel pools at US reactors be emptied and the waste stored in casks that are hardened and bunkered behind security fortifications. The technology is known as Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS), but the federal government has never required such modifications, even after 9/11 and now, Fukushima.
Instead, while the NRC seeks to fulfill the orders of the court, the US Department of Energy and its allies in Congress, are embarked on a different path to move radioactive waste from reactor sites. The concept – an old idea that has already been debunked and rejected multiple times – is “Centralized Interim Storage (CIS).” An effort to dump radioactive waste “temporarily” on the Skull Valley Goshute Indian reservation in Utah was defeated in 2006 by an alliance of Goshute tribe members, environmental advocates and political allies.
If a CIS facility were to be sited, it would mean transporting the country’s radioactive waste hundreds, even thousands of miles on roads, railway lines and waterways, past the homes, schools, and businesses of at least 50 million Americans – to be deposited at a parking lot site “temporarily.” The most likely targets would be low-income communities with the weakest economic, political, or social resistance, or Native American reservations.
Severe transport accidents – such as high-speed crashes, long-duration, high-temperature fires, or underwater submersions – or even intentional attacks, could unleash disastrous quantities of hazardous radioactivity as these shipments pass through major metro areas.
With no suitable permanent repository location in sight, these “temporary” dumps could easily become permanent. In addition, stacking un-hardened radioactive waste casks outside, like bowling pins, represents an obvious security threat. Finally, if CIS sites were, in fact, temporary, transportation risks would be doubled, by moving the waste first to a CIS site and then, again, to the nation’s illusory, final dump site.
Many silver linings have a dark cloud encircling them. The DC Circuit’s decision in June, to stay the issuance of new or extended reactor licenses, is a major, hard-won victory. But we must remain ever-vigilant to prevent the development of scientifically unsound, environmentally racist,”interim” radioactive waste storage options that could endanger millions. Instead of perpetuating the unsustainable habit of continued waste generation, we should stop making it in the first place. That is the most essential step toward managing our ever-mounting radioactive waste disaster.
Kevin Kamps specializes in nuclear waste issues at Beyond Nuclear, in Takoma Park, MD. Tel: 240.462.3216.
Linda Gunter serves as Beyond Nuclear’s international specialist. Tel: 301.455.5655.
- Illegally Dumped Radioactive Waste Found on Somalia’s Coast (insomniacanonymous.wordpress.com)
- Radioactive waste disposal outside Fukushima a vague vow (japantimes.co.jp)
- Mayors defiant over proposed plans for storing radioactive waste (fukushimaupdate.com)
- Us: NRC Halts Nuclear Reactor Licensing Decisions (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Experts continue to praise Iceland’s recovery success after the country’s bank bailouts of 2008.
Unlike the US and several countries in the eurozone, Iceland allowed its banking system to fail in the global economic downturn and put the burden on the industry’s creditors rather than taxpayers.
In the following years, the Icelandic government made drastic cuts that reduced the fiscal deficit from 14 percent of GDP to just two percent. At the same time, unemployment in Iceland has shrunk to less than five percent, while analysts predict the North Atlantic economy to grow some 2.8 percent by the end of 2012, according to recent reports.
The rebound continues to wow officials, including International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who recently referred to the Icelandic recovery as “impressive”. And experts continue to reiterate that European officials should look to Iceland for lessons regarding austerity measures and similar issues.
The Financial Times outlined a number of important points for countries in the eurozone to consider in an article published on Monday. These include Iceland’s tactic of pursing “politics of social and economic inclusion”. This includes heavier taxes on the higher brackets while cutting welfare schemes less than other areas of the budget to retain the purchasing power of lower income groups.
- IMF Says Bailouts Iceland-Style Hold Lessons in Crisis Times (businessweek.com)
- Iceland Was Right..We Were Wrong: The IMF (seeker401.wordpress.com)
There’s an interesting Politico story (8/22/12) about Andrea Seabrook, who until recently was a Capitol Hill reporter for NPR. She’s moved on to a new independent reporting project, but it’s what she said about her previous gig that’s most revealing:
“I realized that there is a part of covering Congress, if you’re doing daily coverage, that is actually sort of colluding with the politicians themselves because so much of what I was doing was actually recording and playing what they say or repeating what they say,” Seabrook told POLITICO. “And I feel like the real story of Congress right now is very much removed from any of that, from the sort of theater of the policy debate in Congress, and it has become such a complete theater that none of it is real…. I feel like I am, as a reporter in the Capitol, lied to every day, all day. There is so little genuine discussion going on with the reporters…. To me, as a reporter, everything is spin.”
Seabrook seems pretty clear that the problem isn’t the media: “I think the problem is the Congress itself. And we’re all in the same positions, scrambling to figure out how the hell to cover these a*sholes.”
So if a reporter is covering politicians who are lying to her every single day, what is preventing that reporter from saying as much? Why just repeat the lies?
The crystal clear implication here is that, for whatever reason, an NPR journalist doesn’t feel comfortable challenging lies and spin. It’s a pretty important admission, and one that NPR listeners–and management– should think about.
- NPR: the Voices and Views of One Side (Aletho News)
- Fukushima whitewash betrayed trust of NPR listeners (Aletho News)
- Adam Davidson’s Journalistic Corruption (Aletho News)
The BBC has sensationally censored a news story and a video showing Syrian rebels forcing a prisoner to become a suicide bomber, a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, presumably because it reflected badly on establishment media efforts to portray the FSA as glorious freedom fighters.
The video, a copy of which can be viewed above (the original BBC version was deleted), shows Free Syrian Army rebels preparing a bomb that is loaded onto the back of a truck to be detonated at a government checkpoint in the city of Aleppo.
The clip explains how the rebels have commandeered an apartment belonging to a Syrian police captain. The rebels are seen sneering at photos of the police captain’s family while they proclaim, “Look at their freedom, look how good it is,” while hypocritically enjoying the luxury of the man’s swimming pool.
The video then shows a prisoner who the rebels claim belonged to a pro-government militia. Bruises from torture on the prisoner’s body are explained away as having been metered out by the man’s previous captors. The BBC commentary emphasizes how well the rebels are treating the man, showing them handing him a cigarette.
However, the man has been tricked into thinking he is part of a prisoner exchange program when in reality he is being set up as an unwitting suicide bomber. The prisoner is blindfolded and told to drive the truck towards a government checkpoint.
“What he doesn’t know is that the truck is the one that’s been rigged with a 300 kilo bomb,” states the narrator.
The clip then shows rebels returning disappointed after it’s revealed that the remote detonator failed and the bomb did not explode.
The BBC narrator admits that forcing prisoners to become suicide bombers “would certainly be considered a war crime.”
New York Times reporters who shot the video claim they had no knowledge of the plot. A longer version of the clip is posted on the New York Times You Tube channel. The title of the clip glorifies the rebel fighters as “The Lions of Tawhid”.
Within hours of the story being published, it was subsequently sent down the memory by the BBC. Attempts to reach the original article URL are greeted with a 404 Not Found page.
In addition, a You Tube version of the same video originally posted on the official BBC News 2012 channel was also removed. Although the You Tube page for the video states that it was removed after a “copyright claim by British Broadcasting Corporation” this is a bogus reason, because the video was not uploaded by a third party, it was posted on the official BBC channel, as the screenshot below proves.
“Copyright claim” is a bogus reason for the video’s removal because it originally appeared on the official BBC News Channel, and was not uploaded by a third party.
It seems clear that the only reason for the video to be removed would be because senior BBC news editors felt the story reflected badly on the propaganda campaign to characterize the Syrian rebels as venerable and proud freedom fighters, when in reality as we have documented they have been guilty of massacres, kidnappings, torture and other acts of brutality.
This represents a clear effort to hide evidence of Syrian rebels, who the Obama administration recently pledged to support with taxpayer dollars, engaged in war crimes.
In addition, the fact that the rebels, under the direction of Al-Qaeda fighters, are building bombs and carrying out terrorist attacks is something the NATO-aligned media is keen not to emphasize.
This is by no means the first time the BBC has been caught manipulating the news in an effort to propagandize for western military involvement in Syria.
Back in May we exposed how the BBC has used a years-old photo of dead Iraqi children to depict victims of an alleged government assault in the town of Houla.
The photographer who took the original picture, Marco Di Lauro, posted on his Facebook page, “Somebody is using my images as a propaganda against the Syrian government to prove the massacre.” Di Lauro told the London Telegraph he was “astonished” the BBC had failed to check to authenticity of the image.
Should the copy at the top of this article also be deleted, an alternate version of the BBC video with added commentary under fair use is embedded below.
NICOSIA – Cyprus said on Thursday it had asked Britain to give an official explanation for a Sunday Times report alleging that the British Sovereign Bases in Cyprus provide intelligence to Syrian rebels which helped them deal effective strikes against the Syrian army.
Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Markoulli told the state radio that she had instructed the Cypriot High Commissioner (Ambassador) in London to make a demarche to the British Foreign Ministry asking for official information on the report.
“It is a very serious issue if the Bases are being used for purposes other than those explicitly set out in the Treaty of Establishment,” Markouli said.
She said she expected a British reply by the end of the day.
Markoulli added that the 1960 Treaty of Establishment under which Cyprus was granted independence states that two bases retained by Britain can only be used for defensive purposes.
British paper the Sunday Times claimed on Sunday that British agents operating in the British bases were collecting intelligence on Syrian army movements which is then channeled through Turkey to forces fighting the the Syrian army.
A spokesman for the British High Commission in Cyprus on Monday refused to confirm or deny the report, citing the official government position not to comment on intelligence or operational matters.
An Israeli settler driving in Jaber Neighborhood, in the southern West Bank of Hebron, hit a Palestinian child then drove off in what appears to be a ramming attack, medical sources reported.
Nasser Qabaja, a Red Crescent official in Hebron, said that the child was moved to an Israeli hospital upon request of her family.
Medical sources said that the child suffered moderate injuries, and that she suffered various cuts and bruises.
Late in January this year, an Israeli driver hit a Palestinian teenager at a checkpoint near Jerusalem, and then drove off in an apparent ramming attack.
Some of the witnesses present at the scene were able to document the license number of the vehicle, but Israeli police did not take the information when it was presented to them.
Although several previous ramming incidents have been reported to the Israeli police and military, no investigations of these incidents have been carried out by the Israeli authorities.
- Israeli kills 2 Palestinians near Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli Court Approves Well Destruction In Bethlehem (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- French activist injured as Israeli troops attack Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Six Palestinians Wounded, Some Seriously In Settler Firebomb Attack On Their Car Near Hebron (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- #VIDEO | Child Abuse | Palestinian child kicked by Israeli Border Police in Hebron (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Israeli Settlers Attack Home, Attempt to Torch It (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- This Week in Palestine, August 17th, 2012 (indybay.org)
BETHLEHEM – Israel on Wednesday denounced South Africa’s cabinet decision to label goods from illegal Israeli settlements as produced in the occupied Palestinian territories.
In a statement, the Israeli foreign ministry said the decision “is without precedent, as no such measure has ever been adopted in South Africa or in any other country. It constitutes therefore a blatant discrimination based on national and political distinction.”
The statement added: “Israel and South Africa have political differences, and that is legitimate. What is totally unacceptable is the use of tools which, by essence, discriminate and single out, fostering a general boycott. Such exclusion and discrimination bring to mind ideas of racist nature which the government of South Africa, more than any other, should have wholly rejected.”
The ministry said South Africa’s ambassador would be summoned Thursday.