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Wednesday
Sep062017

The high price for activism in Africa

In a reminder of how dangerous it is to oppose the nuclear power industry in some countries comes disturbing news from Tanzania. Tundu Lissu, an outspoken lawyer, human rights activist, opposition member of the Tanzanian Parliament, and a critic of extractive industries, was shot and wounded in Dodoma on September 7 when returning home from a session of parliament.

Gunter Wippel, a leading advocate against uranium mining and who administers the international Uranium Network, met Lissu on several occasions. He writes: “Tundu, whom I had met during our first information tour on the issue of uranium mining, attended and spoke out at several occasions at our conferences and supported our partners in Tanzania critical of uranium mining repeatedly. 

“He was supposed to attend next week's conference "Human Rights, Future Generations and Crimes of the Nuclear Age" in Basel, Switzerland.” 

Conflicting reports have Lissu in critical and in stable condition. It is unclear at the moment why he was shot and who by but he is a vocal opponent of Tanzanian president, John Magufuli. 

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Wednesday
Aug302017

Beyond Nuclear joins ocean and conservation groups to protest Japan dumping radioactive water into Pacific

Beyond Nuclear has signed onto a new letter from marine wildlife, environmental and conservation groups calling on authorities in Japan to avoid at all cost the dumping of hundreds and thousands of tons of radioactively contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.

Currently, Japanese utility, TEPCO, is planning to release 777,000 tons of waste containing radioactive tritium into the Pacific Ocean from its stricken Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear site. The contaminated water, used to cool the destroyed reactors to avoid further catastrophe, has been stored in tanks on site, but the facility is running out of space. 

The groups urge TEPCO and the Japanese nuclear regulator to find alternatives to once again using our oceans as an irresponsible dumping ground for man-made garbage. Environmental and anti-nuclear groups, along with local Japanese fishermen, have also been calling for TEPCO not to dump the radioactive water into the ocean.

“The time for using world oceans as a dump is over,” reads the letter. To date, the groups include: Turtle Island Restoration Network; WildEarth Guardians; Beyond Nuclear; Endangered Species Coalition; Klamath Forest Alliance; Environmental Protection Information Center; WILDCOAST; Ocean Defenders Alliance; Kurmalliance; Pacific Marine Mammal Center; World Ocean Observatory; Ocean Institute; and Elders Climate Action. The groups are encouraging other organizations to sign on before the letter is submitted on September 3rd.

Read the full press release.
Organizations should contact the Turtle Island Restoration Network to sign on to the letter.
Tuesday
Aug292017

Groups call for immediate shutdown of South Texas nuclear power station in advance of continued Harvey flooding 

The STP reactors are cooled by a 7,000 acre channeled reservoir surrounded by a earth/cement embankment. The top of the embankment wall is 67-feet above mean sea level. The reactor complex is situated below on a grade of 29-feet above mean sea level.The South Texas Project nuclear power station near Bay City, Texas has not yet dodged a bullet from a very powerful Hurricane Harvey. The hurricane battered the Texas Gulf Coast region from August 25 to August 30, 2017 finally dumping an all time record 50-inches of rainfall flooding the Houston metropolitan area 112 miles to the northeast of the reactors before moving on. At publishing time, the Colorado River is cresting over its banks at 47' feet, three feet above flood stage (44 feet), at the gauging station at Bay City on August 31, 2017. The Colorado runs adjacent to the East of the reactor site. But the operators are still projecting that the flood water will not impact the reactor site. The South Texas nuclear power station has remained at full power throughout the hurricane and tropical storm. The reactor site never experienced sustained winds over 73 miles per hour that would have triggered an Emergency Action Level requiring the reactor to shut down.  Given the unique cooling system, projections for flooding are a much more vague criteria left to the operator's discretion. The reactor site at no time during the storm lost offsite power from the electric grid that provides electricity to 100% of reactor safety and cooling systems. Loss Of Offsite power (LOOP) would have automatically shut down the reactors. With the loss of offsite power, nuclear power stations have back up emergency power systems, like emergency diesel generators, which provide electricity to a vital subset of those reactor safety and cooling.  A "SCRAM" however leaves operators with an extremely hot reactor core to be cooled on narrower safety margins.

Beyond Nuclear and Texas watchdog groups Sustainable Energy & Economic Development (SEED) Coalition and the South Texas Association for Responsible Energy have called upon the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the operators of the South Texas nuclear power plant to put the reactors into "its safest condition, cold shutdown" in advance of predicted flood waters that prompted Bay City authorities to declare a "mandatory evacuation" before emergency evacuation routes flooded, including those for a radiological emergency at the South Texas nuclear station. The Bay City mandatory evacuation order was later lifted and modified to a "voluntary evacuation."  

The unprecedented rainfall in the region broke a U.S. continental record. The groups had warned that the NRC and the South Texas Nuclear Operating Corporation have previously recognized that there is a credible threat from a nuclear accident initiated by a breach in a 12-mile long perimeter embankment wall that surrounds the 7,000 acre Main Cooling Reservoir for the two reactors. 

A closer look at the cooling water intake (right) and discharge piping (left) system from the reservoir down to the reactor below.

The Main Cooling Reservoir's embankment contains the all important reactor cooling water behind an earth and cement wall, the top of which is 65- to 67-feet above mean sea level. The nuclear power station is situated below, at 29-feet above mean sea level. The normal maximum operating water level in the reservoir is 47-feet above mean sea level. The rain has ceased as the hurricane is now downgraded to a tropical storm that has moved on to Louisiana. 

Throughout the storm, the NRC and South Texas Project did not publicly post any information on the status of the changing water level within the reservoir despite the unprecedented rainfall that has inundated the region.       

Similarly, as for any of the many inherently dangerous industries concentrated on the Texas Gulf Coast, the public watchdog groups maintain that the call for shutting down the reactors in advance of this powerful storm, if given the opportunity, is the prudent action when the nuclear reactors, regardless of design, can be secured in the safest and most stable condition, cold shutdown. This is one of the major lessons to be learned from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan.

UPDATE: Beyond Nuclear questioned the NRC on the compliance of continued operation of South Texas with the potential closing of radiological emergency evacuation routes The NRC Public Affairs Office responded, "On August 30, 2017, FEMA has concluded that offsite radiological emergency preparedness remains adequate to provide 'Reasonable Assurance' and that appropriate measures can be taken to protect the health and safety of the public in a radiological emergency at the South Texas Project. At this time, FEMA is not initiating actions to conduct a Disaster Initiated Review of offsite issues within the South Texas Project 10-mile emergency planning zone."

 

 

Friday
Aug252017

Beyond Nuclear on Thom Hartmann show RT

Paul Gunter was a guest on the Thom Hartmann RT show to talk about the collapse of the nuclear industry and atomic waste dumping from Fukushima's ongoing disaster and TEPCO's icewall around the intensely radioactive wreckage and three missing reactor cores.

Tuesday
Aug222017

Tony deBrum, champion of action on climate change and nuclear abolition

On October 28, 2015, Beyond Nuclear was honored to be the presenter of the Nuclear-Free Future Award (NFFA) to Tony deBrum, Former Republic of the Marshall Islands Foreign Minister. Tony worked tirelessly to bring the world’s attention to the deadly legacy of the 67 U.S. atomic bomb tests over the RMI and became a leading voice in calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Recently, deBrum had helped lead two law suits against nuclear weapons countries. He also played a pivotal role in securing the Paris Climate Accord, and dedicated his recent years to the crisis of climate change, already being felt on his low-lying islands. We are now saddened to report that Minister deBrum, 72, died August 22 at his Majuro home surrounded by family. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, deBrum won the Right Livelihood Award (pictured) in the same year he was honored by the NFFA. The Adam Horowitz film, Nuclear Savage, highlights much of deBrum’s investigative work on the horrifying health consequences to Marshall Islanders during the 12 the years of atomic bomb tests there. More