Supreme Court will hear Virginia uranium mining case

Virginia Uranium, the Canadian company that wants to extract uranium from a deposit in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, has tried for years to argue its case on merit. And failed. That’s because there are no environmental, health or, at present, even economic arguments to support lifting the Commonwealth’s moratorium on uranium mining.

But corporations eager to plunder and profit do not readily throw in the towel. Instead, the company has taken its case to the US Supreme Court where it will argue the issue from a legal perspective.

Virginia Uranium has the support in this venture of the lapdog federal regulator, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which never fails to be on side with its corporate masters. (Technically the NRC answers to Congress, not the nuclear industry, but the agency annually assesses and collects fees from the industry totaling about 90 percent of its annual budget authority.)

The specifics of the Supreme Court case will debate who actually has the jurisdiction to decide whether the Virginia Uranium project can go forward. The federal government will make the case that it falls under the terms of the Atomic Energy Act. This would give the NRC the power to oversee all matters related to radiation risks posed by the mine — the core of the state’s reasoning in opposing it.

The state will argue that the Coles Hill site is on privately owned land. This would mean the mine site falls outside the jurisdiction of the AEA which is aimed at regulating mines on federal land.

Read the rest of our story on Beyond Nuclear International.


Berkeley, CA becomes second US city compliant with UN Ban Treaty

Berkeley has become the second city in the US to proclaim itself ‘in compliance’ with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, following Takoma Park, Maryland, who made a similar declaration last month. Takoma Park received their ‘certificate of treaty compliance’ at a small ceremony in the United Nations building on May 14th.

Through the Nuclear Free Berkeley Act of 1986, Berkeley has maintained one of the strongest municipal prohibitions against the nuclear weapons industry in the country for over thirty years, prohibiting any work on nuclear weapons from taking place within the city, and barring the city from contracting with, or investing in, any company working on nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, Berkeley has a complicated legacy that leads many to doubt its sincerity as a nuclear-free city. It played a foundational role in the original development of nuclear weapons, with the discovery of plutonium in Berkeley labs in 1941. The University of California continues to be closely connected to both the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, key facilities in the ongoing production of nuclear weapons in this country.

Read more from NuclearBan.US


May 18, 1979 - Karen Silkwood verdict

As reported by PEACEbuttons.INFO:

May 18, 1979: A jury in a federal court in Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee established a company's responsibilty for damage to the health of a worker in the nuclear industry. [More.]


MOX got nixed but plutonium pits could be next

The US Department of Energy has told Congress it plans to cancel an unfinished plutonium fuel fabrication plant in South Carolina that has already cost $7.6 billion and would have cost $50 billion more to complete. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the department instead wants to use the facility to manufacture pits, the plutonium cores that trigger nuclear weapons. The MOX plant (pictured) would have combined surplus weapons grade plutonium with uranium from irradiated reactor fuel to make mixed-oxide fuel, or MOX. The plan was the result of a joint agreement with Russia, originally signed in 2000. Russia ceased implementation of the MOX plan in 2016 as US-Russia relations cooled. No US reactors are designed to use MOX fuel. The 34 tons of plutonium originally designated for MOX will now be diluted with an inert substance and disposed of at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. The WIPP plant suffered a serious explosion and release of radioactive materials in February 2014 that exposed workers and forced a prolonged closure, costing at least $2 billion. All in all, a story of a colossal waste of money. More


Crimes against future generations

Our continued possession of nuclear weapons; production of radioactive waste due to our use of nuclear power; and our inadequate action on climate change are crimes against future generations, write Andreas Nidecker, Emilie Gaillard and Alyn Ware. Read their article.