cute nuke (bomb) revival and CPS energy

peace symbolThe radioactive waste contamination we know about won’t be cleaned up for several more decades because of Bush Administration budget shortfalls, Texas is gallumping along the path to opening a new national “low-level” radwaste dump in West Texas in spite of dubious site analysis, and the Department of Energy is on the brink of reviving efforts to create a new generation of nuclear weapons, or “renewable replacement warheads,” and kickstart another rush for more tactical (ie. usable) nuclear weapons.

San Antonio’s quest for new nuclear power is an endorsement of the fringe “benefits” of both our nuclear waste miasma and weapons madness.

The head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, writes Jeff Johnson of Chemical & Engineering News,

envisions “a world where a smaller, safer, more secure, and more reliable stockpile is backed up by a robust industrial and design capability to respond to changing technical, geopolitical, or military needs.”

… When complete, D’Agostino told Congress, the new facilities “would restore us to a level of capability comparable to what we had during the Cold War.” In return for a new manufacturing capability, D’Agostino says, NNSA will be able to reduce the size of the weapons stockpile.

Beyond the obvious question here (who needs Cold War-era stockpiles of nukes and the return of Mutually Assured Destruction of the Reagan era?) is the small matter of how such efforts would be received in the Rest of the World. New Arms Race, anyone?

Shouldn’t we be, say, working to rid the world of the technology that could (and nearly did) end all life on this planet?

Johnson’s article continues:

Henry A. Kissinger and George P. Shultz, former secretaries of state; William J. Perry, former secretary of defense; and Sam Nunn, former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently urged a new direction in nuclear weapons policies that would lead to the end the world’s dependence upon them.

Relying on weapons for deterrence “is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective,” they wrote in a Wall Street Journal editorial, following an arms control conference last year. They argued that the time has come to move past nuclear policies based on the old Soviet-American assumption of mutually assured destruction.

They urged a phased abolishment of all nuclear stockpiles and an end to deterrence based on nuclear weapons. In large part, their statement was supported by fears of nonstate terrorists obtaining nuclear weapons, a now-familiar nightmare scenario that would be “outside the bounds of a deterrence strategy.”

“We are on the precipice of a new serious danger of nuclear proliferation in a world of terrorists,” says Sidney D. Drell, who, along with Shultz, organized the Hoover Institute conference that led to the position paper. Drell is a physicist, emeritus deputy director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, adviser to the weapons labs, and an original member of JASON, a group of academic consultants who advise the government on defense issues.

Even without the established nuclear powers pouring new resources into new nuclear weapons research, we have a problem. That is, a new rush for “low-carbon” nuclear power. With jihadists growing like fields of ephemeral poppies across the landscape (thanks in large part to our foray into Iraq), nuclear materials have earned a special place in religiously darkened hearts everywhere.

I had a too-brief conversation with Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, on this topic recently.

He had obviously given a bit of thought.

In order to make a significant impact on climate we have to build 2,000, 3,000 nuclear reactors for it to take on the kind of role that coal has today. Probably more, considering the growth in China and India. That means one nuclear reactor every six days or so. That means we have to build two or three uranium enrichment plants every year.

Now, one enrichment plant in Iran is giving us a lot of heartburn. The problems of inspection, control, nuclear-material safeguards, even now are very, very difficult … If we multiply the nuclear establishment by 10 times and spread it all over the world, the problems of accounting will become extremely difficult and it will be much more difficult to ensure it is not being diverted for weapons.

There’s a whole lot of countries that are looking to nuclear power … I think the unstated interest is in nuclear-weapons capability. So in this kind of world to think of quadrupling, quintupling, or 10-folding the nuclear-power infrastructure doesn’t seem like a safe thing to do.

Tomorrow morning, Arjun will be back in San Antonio to speak at a press conference regarding city-owned CPS Energy’s plans to invest in the construction of new nuclear power plants. (10 a.m., City Hall)

It was interesting to read in this morning’s NYTimes of the anti-nuke origins of the peace symbol (no, it’s not the flipped and broken cross as some in the pulpit have posited):

It started life as the emblem of the British anti-nuclear movement but it has become an international sign for peace, and arguably the most widely used protest symbol in the world. It has also been adapted, attacked and commercialized.

It had its first public outing 50 years ago on a chilly Good Friday as thousands of British anti-nuclear campaigners set off from London’s Trafalgar Square on a 50-mile march to the weapons factory at Aldermaston.

The demonstration had been organized by the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament joined in.

Gerald Holtom, a designer and former World War II conscientious objector from West London, persuaded DAC that their aims would have greater impact if they were conveyed in a visual image. The “Ban the Bomb” symbol was born.

He considered using a Christian cross motif but, instead, settled on using letters from the semaphore — or flag-signaling — alphabet, super-imposing N(uclear) on D(isarmament) and placing them within a circle symbolizing Earth.

The sign was quickly adopted by C.N.D.

Holtom later explained that the design was “to mean a human being in despair” with arms outstretched downwards.

CPS itself is having in Open House that local earth-adoring orgs and life-loving residents invite you to spoil with intelligent questions and sensible challenges… Below is the press release that fell from the Sierra Club email tree.

Your attendance and input would be most welcome.


CPS Energy wants to commit to two new nuclear units at Bay City to join South Texas Nuclear Project’s units 1 and 2.

Studies have shown a rise in cancer rates in the vicinity of nuclear plants, and a decline when the plants are closed. Pregnant women and young children seem to be the most vulnerable.

CPS is saying that the two new units will cost about $4 – $5 billion and be on-line by 2016. This is highly unlikely. Moody’s Investors Service has calculated that a plant the size of what we’d be getting will cost more in the neighborhood of $16 billion. We ratepayers will be paying that. And the plant is likely to experience delays that make 2016 much too optimistic a start up date. Already the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has indefinitely postponed consideration of the application because of software concerns. And the waste disposal problem for all nukes is far from being solved.

There are safer, cleaner, eminently more viable alternatives to nuclear that will meet the demand of our growing population, and ultimately cost less in terms of both health and money. We need to convince CPS and our City Council of this.

CPS will hold a public hearing on the nuke Tuesday, March 25, 6-8 pm, at La Villita Assembly Hall. PLEASE ATTEND. PLEASE MAKE A STATEMENT OPPOSING NUCLEAR AND ENDORSING EFFICIENCY, CONSERVATION AND RENEWABLE ENERGY. We need your help! If the number of people who speak out is large, we cannot be ignored.

Hall is located at 401 Villita St and here is a link to get online map location.

For more information call Loretta, Conservation Chair, Alamo Group of the Sierra Club, at 492-4620.

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