[A version of this article is published in the current edition of Positive News US under the headline “US Heeds the Wake-Up Call.” Photo: 350.org]
By Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle
EON, The Ecological Options Network
Steps Toward a Nuclear Free World
In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, which is already worse than Chernobyl and Three Mile Island combined, and which will continue to spew deadly radioactive particles around the planet for the unforeseeable future, a number of signs have emerged that many people have heeded this 2-by-4 wake up blow between the collective eyebrows.
This is very good news for long-time global anti-nuclear activists since there’s been relatively little attention to the nuclear issue in the last two decades. People have forgotten, and the young don’t know, our powerful anti-nuclear past. The lesson: Resistance IS Fertile!
Coalitions like the Clamshell Alliance in the northeast U.S, the Abalone Alliance in California, the International Nuclear Weapons Free Zone and the Nuclear Free & Independent Pacific Movement made huge strides in the 80’s and early 90’s pushing back the ravenous two-headed industry of nuclear power and nuclear weapons.
Coalitions formed that blocked 100 planned nuclear power plants along the US west coast. California, roughly the same size as Japan, was slated to have the same number of nuclear reactors as Japan now has, 54. Spirited opposition from many thousands blocked all but a handful. Reactors in Sacramento were actually voted to be closed down and were replaced by solar panels. Humboldt County’s nuclear plant was also closed. Primitive radioactive waste dumps were also blocked – forcing the nuclear industry to keep waste where it was produced rather than encouraging more production, contaminating more precious land and water and avoiding transportation of hazardous radioactive waste through small towns and large cities. These successes, plus inherent financial liability, kept the thousand nuclear power plants planned for the rest of the U.S. to 104.
Fukushima has wakened people once again to the insidious destruction from long-lived radioactive particles and the permanent DNA mutations that nuclear pollution causes.
In the U.S., the ante is being raised in Vermont, New York, California and in other states, where fierce grassroots battles now rage to shut aging reactors, many of which are on earthquake faults and virtually identical to those now spewing at Fukushima. Activists are using a combination of tactics from rallies to legal suits. Current California Congressional candidate Norman Soloman, is the first to call for the complete shutdown of California’s nuclear power plants.
Instead of the ‘Nuclear Renaissance’ predicted by nuclear proponents, Beyond Nuclear.org lists pages of examples of what it calls a ‘Nuclear Retreat.’
[Vermont Yankee photo: Associated Press]
Just a few examples:
*Vermont: Vermont Yankee – Communities throughout Vermont, their Federal legislators, plus the state legislators are opposed to continuing the operation of the decomposing Vermont Yankee plant – the same GE Mark I reactor model as in Fukushima. A heated struggle is in process.
*California: There are two nuclear power stations located on the coast, with a combined total of 5 reactors, all on active earthquake faults.
Diablo Canyon – Plant operator PG&E – who’s safety record is atrocious – has applied for early re-licensing of Diablo’s 2 aging reactors. Citizens’ groups like Women’s Energy Matters and Mothers for Peace are calling for immediate decommissioning. State legislators are calling for more seismic studies before the requested re-licensing is considered.
San Onofre – between L.A. and San Diego sits directly on the beach and close to two earthquake faults. Current California Congressional candidate Norman Soloman, is calling for the complete shutdown of California’s nuclear power plants.
*New York: Indian Point – New York residents are pointing out the impossibility of evacuating the NY metropolitan area’s 50 million population near Long Island’s Indian Point nuclear reactors in the wake of a disaster and are calling for a shutdown. Gov. Cuomo has ordered it closed.
*Texas: Twin new reactor projects due to start construction in 2012 at the South Texas Nuclear Project have been put on hold. Now this project looks very doubtful because embattled Japanese utility, Tepco, was to be an investor in the project along with NRG Energy, the majority owner, which was even looking for loans from the Japanese government. Tepco is now facing a $15 Billion dollar loss and its Fukushima disaster has caused a major disruption in the Japanese economy far beyond the earthquake and tsunami damage.
A Global ‘Market Trend?’
As long-time nuclear critic Harvey Wasserman, editor of NukeFree.org reports, “A Japanese-financed project for Texas and a French one in Maryland are all but dead…. The pressures on old and new US reactors, and the collapse of the industry in Germany and Japan, appear on the brink of pushing a failed technology into the scrap heap of history.”
May 31, 2011. Eight European Union countries (Austria, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta and Portugal) have created a new anti-nuclear bloc within the EU. from NIRS.org
The Fukushima disaster is a wake-up call to join our individual talents and energies to local, national and international pushback efforts for a nuclear free world.
The evolutionary wind is at our backs. Fukushima’s toxic radionuclides, disproving false claims of nuclear safety, are in the air. Join the fun – let’s create a nuclear-free world! Remember, history shows – Resistance IS Fertile.
For more info: NIRS.org, NukeFree.org, BeyondNuclear.org, FaireWinds.org, Union of Concerned Scientists, IEER.org , Western States Legal Foundation, Tri-Valley CAREs, Women’s Energy Matters, Mothers for Peace
To help keep EON’s work going, please check out all the support options on our Donation Page or you can also send a check made out to EON to EON, POB 1047, Bolinas, CA