“Nuclear accidents lead to global consequences. They are not a problem of just one country, they affect the life of entire regions.”
Those are the words of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in his speech commemorating today’s anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, which occurred in his country 26 years ago. The fight to contain the still-radiating ruined reactor still goes on. A recent study published by the New York Academy of Sciences drew howls from nuclear proponents when it presented massive data showing that nearly one million people around the world have died so far from exposure to radiation released from Chernobyl.
President Yanukovych might have had Fukushima in mind when he talked about ‘global consequences.’ Radiation from it has already been detected across the northern hemisphere and its emissions are on-going with three melted-down reactors, not just one, as at Chernobyl. Nevertheless, a recent report suggests that U.S. radioactive fallout monitoring may have been turned over in a no-bid contract to a company with ties to the nuclear lobby. The EPA’s Inspector General finds “Weaknesses in EPA’s Management of the Radiation Network System Demand Attention.” [ check recent milk contamination levels here. ]
Now experts like Bob Alvarez and legislators like Oregon’s Senator Ron Wyden are warning that the damaged fuel storage pools at Fukushima could be just one earthquake away from an atomic conflagration that would be 85 times worse than Chernobyl. They are calling for international action.
Opting Out of the Cyber Panopticon
Meanwhile, that boneheaded corporate boondogle – a wireless ‘smart’ energy grid mediated by wireless ‘mesh networks’ and wireless ‘smart meters’ – is coming under fire from both the cyber-security and telecom sectors.
People like the DOE’s Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman and former CIA head James Woolsey are calling the concept of a wireless ‘smart’ energy grid ‘really stupid.’ The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) agrees.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine has officially recommended that the CPUC halt smart meter installation immediately to protect the public’s health. (PDF here.)
Telecom giant AT&T has applied to be a party in California’s ‘smart grid’ proceeding, claiming that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), not the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), should have ultimate jurisdiction over the ‘smart grid’ rollout, apparently because it represents an unlicensed broadcast network that could potentially compete with phone, cable and satellite networks in supplying internet and ‘content distribution’ services. (PDF here.)
As the May 1st ‘deadline’ approaches for PG&E customers to opt-out of the utility’s ‘smart meter’ program, violations of procedures by both CPUC and PG&E in relation to protests filed by several parties, looks like it could throw that deadline into doubt.
[ Don’t count on it though. If you want to opt-out and haven’t already done so, call 1-866-743-0263, or log onto https://pge.com/myhome/customerservice/smartmeter/optout/ before MayDay just to be sure. ]
In what many hope may serve as a precedent, the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) seems to have ruled that Vermonters can opt-out free of charge for at least a year.
Big Brother and the ‘Militarization of Cyberspace’
Back in the 1700’s British philosopher Jeremy Bentham came up with an architecture for social control he described as “a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.” He called it the ‘panopticon,’ It was a ring of glass-fronted cells surrounding a central watchtower. The idea is that inmates must assume they are being watched at all times and thus conform in their behavior. Great design for a prison – and there are a bunch around.
Bentham’s architectural design is now being realized in cyberspace. As CISPA, the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act” (HR 3523) moves toward a vote in the Senate (it passed the House today) backed by the likes of Google and Facebook, internet activists are warning that it would make legal a global corporate/government spying operation that, while it is probably already in operation, is currently both unconstitutional and illegal.
Against this background the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has launched an investigation of PG&E’s spying on smart meter resistance groups. [Download PDF]
These stories and more in this edition. Scroll on down.
The EON Team
Yanukovych warns on nuclear power on Chernobyl anniversary Euronews Video
Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych has warned of the dangers of nuclear energy as his country marks the 26th anniversary of the world’s worst atomic accident.
He was speaking at the inauguration of a giant steel arch that will cover the reactor site.
“The Chernobyl disaster underscored that mankind must be extra careful in using nuclear technologies. Nuclear accidents lead to global consequences. They are not a problem of just one country, they affect the life of entire regions,” the Ukrainian head of state said.
When the arch is completed in 2015, it will be big enough to house New York’s Statue of Liberty.
Then the dangerous job of dismantling the reactor and cleaning up vast amounts of radioactive waste can begin. Read more.
Why Fukushima Is a Greater Disaster than Chernobyl and a Warning Sign for the US
The radioactive inventory of all the irradiated nuclear fuel stored in spent fuel pools at Fukushima is far greater and even more problematic than the molten cores.
by Robert Alvarez – Institute for Policy Studies
…The stark reality, if TEPCO’s plan is realized, is that nearly all of the spent fuel at the Dai-Ichi containing some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet will remain indefinitely in vulnerable pools….
…Given these circumstances, a key goal for the stabilization of the Fukushima-Daichi site is to place all of its spent reactor fuel into dry, hardened storage casks. This will require about 244 additional casks at a cost of about $1 million per cask. To accomplish this goal, an international effort is required – something that Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has called for. As we have learned, despite the enormous destruction from the earthquake and tsunami at the Dai-Ichi Site, the nine dry casks and their contents were unscathed. This is an important lesson we should not ignore. Read more.
From Committee to Bridge the Gap
EPA Inspector General Criticizes EPA Radiation Monitoring Network
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General confirms CBG Criticisms of EPA Radiation Monitoring Network Large Fraction Broken During Fukushima Crisis
click for PDF of the EPA IG report: here
…Broken RadNet monitors and late filter changes impaired this critical infrastructure asset. On March 11, 2011, at the time of the Japan nuclear incident, 25 of the 124 installed RadNet monitors, or 20 percent, were out of service for an average of 130 days. The service contractor completed repairs for all monitors by April 8, 2011. In addition, 6 of the 12 RadNet monitors we sampled had gone over 8 weeks without a filter change, and 2 of those for over 300 days. Because EPA managed RadNet with lower than required priority, parts shortages and insufficient contract oversight contributed to extensive delays in fixing broken monitors. In addition, broken RadNet monitors and relaxed quality controls contributed to the filters not being changed timely. Out-of-service monitors and unchanged filters may reduce the quality and availability of critical data needed to assess radioactive threats to public health and the environment.
EPA remains behind schedule for installing the RadNet monitors and did not fully resolve contracting issues identified in the OIG’s January 2009 report. Until EPA improves contractor oversight, the Agency’s ability to use RadNet data to protect human health and the environment, and meet requirements established in the National Response Framework for Nuclear Radiological Incidents, is potentially impaired.
…RadNet itself had many problems, stations didn’t work, some were not calibrated before the disaster. Even more disturbing is that the EPA does not even handle their own radiation monitoring network. The important function falls to a former Bush administration appointee running a business out of a rundown storefront in New Mexico. Under a $238,000 no bid contract Environmental Dimensions supposedly manages, maintains and operates RadNet, the only tool the public has to see if we are being subjected to nuclear fallout. The blogger that broke this story states that Environmental Dimensions has tripled their revenue in recent years. The company cites a different address as their mailing address. This shows up as a tiny house in Albuquerque. EDI was also part of a 12 million dollar contract in 2010 along with a couple of other contractors. The contract provides environmental & remediation services to the US Corps of Engineers. EDI claims to have been in business since 1990 but owner, Ms. Bradshaw worked for the DoD in 2006.
What little system the public has for radiation notification through the EPA has been shuffled off to a no bid contract with spurious origins and the system experienced widespread problems when it was needed most. That system was mostly turned off just over a month after the disaster. The NRC, the agency tasked with protecting the public from nuclear disasters decided to hand everything over to the nuclear industry’s lobbyists. Read more.
NO-BID MAINTENANCE CONTRACT TO FORMER DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE UNDER-SECRETARY
SYSTEM NOT READY ON 3/11
RadNet – the EPA’s front-line, radiological detection network is severely flawed and suffers from maintenance and reliability issues.
The lack of consistent data and the number of units offline (a techie term for broken) at the time they were most needed shows that the EPA was not prepared for this emergency. Read more.
U.S. smart grid projects falling down on security – DOE Inspector General
Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — January 31, 2012 – A number of the smart grid projects being funded through the Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) program of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 do not have adequate cybersecurity requirements, according to the Department of Energy’s inspector general.
In a new report on an audit of the program, the inspector general found that of the five cybersecurity plans reviewed, three were “incomplete, and did not always sufficiently describe security controls and how they were implemented.” Further a Department review had found that “36 of the 99 cybersecurity approaches submitted as part of the grant applications lacked one or more required elements.”
For a backgrounder on SGIC, see:
Follow the Money: Stimulus Funding Begins to Flow to the Smart Grid Sector
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: … I wanted to ask you about a recent report by the Brookings Institute, not exactly a liberal or progressive think tank. But they did a paper called “Recording Everything: Digital Stories as an Enabler of Authoritarian Governments.” And some of the quotes here are astonishing. They say, quote, “Plummeting digital storage costs will soon make it possible for authoritarian regimes to not only monitor known dissidents, but to also store the complete set of digital data associated with everyone within their borders.”
They go on to say, “When all of the telephone calls in an entire country can be captured and provided to voice recognition software programmed to extract key phrases, and when video footage from public spaces can be correlated, in real time, to the conversations, text messages and social media traffic associated with the people occupying those spaces, the arsenal of responses available to a regime facing dissent will expand. … Pervasive monitoring will provide what amounts to a time machine allowing authoritarian governments to perform retrospective surveillance.”
This is where the United States is heading, where other authoritarian regimes, much more authoritarian regimes than ours, are heading around the world. And yet, the level of public opposition, especially among some young people, to this continued invasion of their privacy is not that—I mean, it’s strong, it’s growing, but it’s not where it should be.
…JACOB APPELBAUM: … And there’s a website. IXmaps is the name of it, and it’s a Canadian site. And they actually show when your internet traffic goes through potential NSA interception points, so you can actually test your internet connection. And that’s the Internet Exchange Maps project.
Recording Everything: Digital Storage as an Enabler of Authoritarian Governments
Technology, Information Technology, Intelligence
John Villasenor, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Center for Technology Innovation
The Brookings Institution
Within the next few years an important threshold will be crossed: For the first time ever, it will become technologically and financially feasible for authoritarian governments to record nearly everything that is said or done within their borders—every phone conversation, electronic message, social media interaction, the movements of nearly every person and vehicle, and video from every street corner. Governments with a history of using all of the tools at their disposal to track and monitor their citizens will undoubtedly make full use of this capability once it becomes available.
The federal government and big companies want limitless new powers to spy on you.
And they plan to get them via legislation called CISPA — the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act” (HR 3523).
CISPA would give Big Brother new powers to read, watch and listen to everything we do on the Internet. The folks behind CISPA claim that national security interests make this surveillance necessary, but the bill’s language is so vague and overreaching that it opens the door for rampant abuse of our online rights:
• CISPA would allow companies and the government to bypass privacy protections and spy on your email traffic, comb through your text messages, filter your online content and even block access to popular websites.
• CISPA would permit companies to give the government your Facebook data, Twitter history and cellphone contacts. It would also allow the government to search your email using the vaguest of justifications — and without any real legal oversight.
• CISPA contains sweeping language that could be used as a blunt weapon to silence whistleblower websites like WikiLeaks and the news organizations that publish their revelations.
• CISPA would create an environment in which we refrain from speaking freely online for fear that the National Security Agency — the same agency that has conducted “warrantless wiretapping” online for years — could come knocking. Read more.
Revealed: CISPA — Internet Spying Law — Pushed by For-Profit Spy Lobby
Defense industry contractors are lobbying for the cyber security bill in Congress that would expand the government’s ability to access information about online activity.
April 13, 2012 | By Lee Fang
A cyber security bill moving swiftly through Congress would give government intelligence agencies broad powers to work with private companies to share information about Internet users. While some critics are beginning to organize online against the legislation, defense contractors, many already working with the National Security Agency on related data-mining projects, are lobbying to press forward. Like many bad policy ideas, entrenched government contractors seem to be using taxpayer money to lobby for even more power and profit.
The proposal, H.R.3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011, introduced by Congressmen Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), provides companies and the government “free rein to bypass existing laws in order to monitor communications, filter content, or potentially even shut down access to online services for ‘cybersecurity purposes.’” Though the bill has been compared to SOPA given its potential to smother free speech on the Internet, the ill-fated copyright legislation that inspired an intense lobbying battle earlier this year, much of the tech community has has joined with copyright interests to support CISPA.
A full list of companies and trade groups supporting the legislation, from Facebook to AT&T, can be found here.
How You Can Help – SaveTheInternet.comHouse Passes CISPA: Make Sure It Dies In The Senate
CISPA would give the government and corporations vast new powers to track and share data about Americans’ Internet use.
But our hundreds of thousands of emails and tens of thousands of phone calls have had a real impact:
* Amendments were adopted that made CISPA (marginally) better.
* Earlier this month CISPA was supposed to sail through, but we helped foment opposition, and the vote was far closer than anybody could have imagined even a couple of weeks ago.
* Most Democrats held firm in opposition, and more than two dozen libertarian-leaning Republicans defied their leadership and voted no.
* Most importantly, President Obama has threatened to veto CISPA.
The Senate will consider cyber security legislation in the coming weeks. Let’s turn up the heat right away: Tell the Senate to reject CISPA and any and all legislation that doesn’t respect privacy and civil liberties.
Add your name to tell the Senate to reject cyber security legislation that doesn’t respect privacy.
VT Opt Out Free For At Least 1 Year
Press Release – Wake Up, Opt Out
Recent filings with the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) will mean that Vermonters will be able to “opt out” of smart meter installations for the rest of 2012, and possibly longer.
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