Beyond Nuclear International

Visiting a park is not paying respects

The appalling failure of the G7 to act on nuclear disarmament

By Linda Pentz Gunter

Seven super-hypocrites took a walk in a park recently and called it paying respects. If this sounds like the opening to a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, it may as well be. Because nothing tangible or real came of this caper.

The park was the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and the visitors were the leaders of the G7 countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Afterwards, US president, Joe Biden, tweeted: “Today, my fellow G7 Leaders and I paid a visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park where we paid our respects.”

Walking in a park isn’t paying respects to the dead of Hiroshima, where at least 140,000 were killed (although estimates have never been certain) when the United States dropped the first of its two atomic bombs on Japanese citizens. 

Abolishing nuclear weapons is paying respects.

And the G7 haven’t paid. The US has never apologized for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. France and the UK (as well as the US) have not only never apologized, but have refused to acknowledge the true extent of the harm caused by their decades of atomic testing. Germany and Italy have not kicked the US nuclear weapons bases out of their countries.

The US has never apologized for the agonizing horrors inflicted on the people of Hiroshima after it dropped the atomic bomb on that city. In addition to those killed immediately, many suffered for weeks before dying, as happened to the person pictured here, making to true total death count hard to establish. (Photo: 尾糠政美/Wikimedia Commons.)

At the close of the G7 summit, hosted by Japan and deliberately held in Hiroshima as a reminder of the horrific consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, the member countries released a joint statement — grandiosely entitled “G7 Leaders’ Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament”. They prefaced it by saying they were issuing it in “a solemn and reflective moment’. 

But the statement, which never once acknowledges the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) as the only genuine instrument for nuclear disarmament, is even worse than the “thoughts and prayers” offered after a mass shooting. In its protracted finger-pointing, principally directed at Russia, which is mentioned 11 times, the statement lays out a pathway toward the provocation of yet more violence, not disarmament, making the likelihood of nuclear war greater.

And with breathtaking hypocrisy, while also castigating North Korea, Iran and China, it conveniently fails to mention US plans to spend $1 trillion on revamping its nuclear weapons arsenal. 

Read More

No survivors

Protestors bring their annual message for peace to the gates of hell

By Leonard Eiger

Activists blockaded the entrance to the US Navy’s west-coast nuclear submarine base, which is home to the largest operational concentration of deployed nuclear weapons, in a nonviolent direct action the day before Mother’s Day.

Eight peace activists from the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, holding banners reading “The Earth is Our Mother Treat Her With Respect”  and “Nuclear Weapons are Immoral to Use, Immoral to Have, Immoral to Make,” briefly blocked all incoming traffic at the Main Gate at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington as part of a May 13th Mothers Day observance. 

Traffic was diverted as the 15 member Seattle Peace Chorus Action Ensemble, facing the Navy’s security detail, sang “The Lucky Ones”, an original composition by their director, Doug Balcom of Seattle, to the assembled guards and Navy personnel. 

The song describes the different stages of personal, regional and global destruction that a nuclear war would inflict on humanity and the earth’s biosphere, and posits whether survivors to later stages of the devastation would wish they’d perished earlier; it ends with a call to save us from this fate by eliminating all nuclear weapons.  

The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action members are frequent protesters at Kitsap and beyond. (Photo: Greg Milner)

The group then led the assembled activists in singing various traditional protest songs, while the State Patrol processed the demonstrators who were being cited for interrupting traffic.

Those blocking the roadway were removed from the highway by the Washington State Patrol, cited for violating RCW 46.61.250 (Pedestrians on Roadways), and released at the scene. 

Read More

Lying is the new black

And the nuclear industry is going for the fiction prize

By Linda Pentz Gunter

Lying is the new black. It is everywhere. It is in, and cool and entirely acceptable in the circles where judgement and ethics are permanently suspended. Disgraced (and now criminally charged) U.S. congressman, George Santos, is the poster child of this new fashion statement. Make up something outlandish and Santos has probably claimed to have said it or done it. None of it is true. And he is still in Congress.

In this (hopefully permanently) post-Trump era, lying with impunity has become precisely that: unpunishable, even applauded, as Trump was on his CNN debacle, which consigned that network to the dustbin of what once used to be called journalism.

It’s all about entertainment now, and clicks, likes, readership and ratings. And fiction. And the nuclear industry boosters are going for the Pulitzer Prize on that one. We used to say, “you couldn’t make this stuff up,” but the pro-nukers do. All the time.

So nuclear power is “the cheapest, safest, greenest” form of energy ever invented. It is “carbon-free.” No one ever died because of a nuclear accident. Irrational fear-mongering by the anti-nuclear movement killed off nuclear power growth in the United States. Renewables are a pipe-dream of the crunchy granola set and about as boring and superfluous. And so on and so on.

There used to be fact-checkers at media organizations. Not any more. Because all this twaddle appears in print and on the air, unchecked and unchallenged. Not only that, media outlets are no longer impartial and are, in fact, deliberately fanning the flames of deceit. Thus, Bloomberg could trumpet an article about the Vogtle 3 and 4 reactors in Georgia with this headline: Nuclear Power Makes Comeback with Massive Carbon-Free Vogtle Plant in Georgia. 

This is a comeback? From what, exactly? A comeback is usually a triumphant return to greatness by a previously successful but then faded star. Actor Robert Downey Jr made a comeback. Basketball legend, Michael Jordan, made a comeback.

Calling Vogtle 3 (pictured under construction) “carbon-free” as Bloomberg News did –and many media outlets do — ignores all the carbon-intensive activities involved in manufacturing components, transporting them and constructing the plant. (Photo: U.S. NRC)

But Vogtle 3 and 4 are a nuclear comeback? The two reactors are more expensive than any previous reactors — far more — and will exceed at least $35 billion when both are finally operational. That’s over $21 billion more than originally planned. 

Read More

Back on track

Renewed support for renewables and an end to nuclear power keep Germany on its carbon neutral path

By Linda Pentz Gunter

Germany is a country of sensible shoes. And, I might add, supremely comfortable ones. Germans do buttery leather as well as they do beer.

Germany’s energy policy is similarly sensible. Germans see no reason to choose the slowest, most expensive, most dangerous and decidedly non-renewable energy source with which to address the climate crisis. 

Consequently, Germany rejected nuclear power, and on Saturday April 15, it closed the last of its reactors. Germany, like its even more sensible neighbor, Austria — where nothing nuclear may even traverse its terrain — is now a nuclear-free country. Almost. The next step for the German anti-nuclear movement will be to close the URENCO uranium enrichment facility there and the Lingen fuel fabrication plant. And of course there remain nuclear weapons in Germany, not theirs, but ours.

While France continues to wobble along on its high-fashion nuclear stilettos, turning ankles and snapping off heels whenever the going gets rough, Germany will trudge on inexorably, and comfortably, to its stated goal of carbon neutral by 2045.

Germany has now said it’s final ‘no’ to nuclear power. (Photo: Conxa Roda/Wikimedia Commons)

Germany also plans to end it coal use possibly as soon as 2030, but certainly by 2038. Although, you’d never know it, with all the alarmist hype in circulation post nuclear shutdown. The nuclear lobby, already in propaganda over-drive, has now gone supersonic in its efforts to persuade the world that Germany’s choice to close those last three reactors — never mind that their energy has already been replaced by renewables —will mean burning more coal.

Read More

Dear AOC, reprocessing is not recycling

Missteps deliver Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez into the hands of the pro-nuclear propagandists

Note: During a visit to Japan, including to the destroyed Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant site, US Representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an outspoken Democrat from Queens, New York, made a series of Instagram posts. Despite being loaded with errors of fact and science, her pronouncements were seized upon by the nuclear power propagandists, heralding her as the latest defector from the “Left” to the pro-nuclear power cause — even though nuclear power is in fact not a partisan issue; a majority of elected Democrats support it. AOC did not state overtly that she supported nuclear power. But her errors are costly — to her credibility, as well as to the climate cause.

In April, Ralph Nader’s new newspaper, the Capitol Hill Citizen, printed Linda Pentz Gunter’s article, republished below, specifically about AOC’s descriptions of reprocessing. (AOC also made errors about Japan’s energy situation in her other Instagram posts from her trip.)

Capitol Hill Citizen comes out in print only. To subscribe or purchase single copies, click here.

By Linda Pentz Gunter

The progressive Democratic congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has 8.6 million followers on her Instagram account, a number identical to the online readership of the New York Times.

With her rock star-like AOC moniker and plenty of adoring fans, what the U.S. representative from Queens, New York writes or says has an impact. And it needs to be accurate. Presumably that is why Members of Congress deploy a slew of aides, tasked with delivering the details on a likely sometimes overwhelming array of topics.

When it comes to nuclear power, however, the Congresswoman from New York appears to be flying solo. Either that, or her aides are failing to do their homework. AOC’s stance on nuclear power was as confusing — and arguably as confused — during the introduction of the short-lived Green New Deal four years ago as her latest venture on Instagram after her February 2023 trip to Japan. 

AOC’s Instagram post, replete with errors. She has not retracted them.

In 2019, after a February 7 joint press conference to roll out the blueprint for a Green New Deal alongside fellow Democrat, Senator Ed Markey, AOC’s office published details of the plan with nuclear power explicitly excluded. There was an immediate backlash, after which the reference to nuclear power’s exclusion was abruptly deleted. Asked to explain the switch, AOC told reporters that the Green New Deal “leaves the door open on nuclear so we can have that conversation” and that she herself did not “take a strong anti- or pro-position on it.”

From Japan earlier this year, AOC delivered a series of bubbly Instagram updates, mostly expressing her delight with Japan’s bullet trains. After her visit to the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, site of the devastating March 2011 explosions and triple meltdowns, she put up a series of informational posts, then stumbled badly on the final question, which asked: “France uses nuclear power. How do they manage it differently? They don’t have earthquakes….”

For reasons that remain unclear, other than the French connection, AOC used this opportunity to launch what sounded unmistakably like praise for the end phase of nuclear power production — reprocessing. Only she called it “recycling”, a deliberately misleading industry term that masks the highly polluting operations involved in reprocessing, which takes irradiated reactor fuel and separates the plutonium from uranium in a chemical bath.

She then made a series of points, all of which were either factually or scientifically inaccurate, or both. We reached out to AOC’s press office for a response, but as of press time there was none.

Read More

Luck is not a safety plan

How much more perilous can the situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant become?

By Linda Pentz Gunter

Luck is not a sound basis on which to rely when we are dealing with nuclear risks. But luck is again what me must depend on as we watch and wait for the worst to happen — or not — at the six-reactor Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

The plant, located in the southwestern region of the country — the area most directly embroiled in some of the most intense fighting, and with parts of it already “annexed” by Russia — has already experienced some frightening near-misses. These include shelling and missile attacks and frequent losses of offsite power that, if not restored promptly, could lead to a meltdown.

The plant has been occupied by Russian forces since March 4, 2022. Rumors abound that a severely depleted workforce is laboring under stressful and even violent conditions, while other staff have fled or have disappeared.

A Ukrainian counter-offensive is expected, forcing evacuations from areas close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. (Photo: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine/Creative Commons)

Now we learn that mass evacuations are underway from communities close to the nuclear plant. These include residents of Enerhodar, the city that houses most of the plant workers and their families.

An estimated 3,000 people, including 1,000 children, have already reportedly evacuated, although where to is unclear. Some Ukrainian sources have suggested this is effectively a “kidnapping” or even “deportation” exercise, with evacuees being taken deeper into Russia.

There are conflicting reports about whether any plant workers number among the evacuees. Energoatom, the Ukrainian nuclear energy authority, claims that as many as 2,700 plant workers are being relocated to Russia, leaving the plant dangerously understaffed. 

These conditions could lead to human error, a leading cause of accidents, including the nuclear power plant disasters at Three Mile Island and Chornobyl.

Read More