"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." — Elie Wiesel

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Just Say NO to New Trident Plans!!!

The United States Navy has released its final decision on plans to build a new fleet of ballistic missile submarines.

The announcement, made in a news release earlier this month, informs us that the Ohio class submarines with their Trident II D-5 thermonuclear armed missiles, the crown jewel of the nation's nuclear weapons systems, are going to sail on well into the future. With the expected lifespan of the new subs we can expect them to be deployed quite probably to the end of this century (humanity should survive so long under the threat of nuclear annihilation).

The Navy plans to build 12 of the new Ohio class ballistic missile subs, each with 16 launch tubes to carry thermonuclear ballistic missiles.

The Trident nuclear weapons system is the most destructive force in the world.  "A single Trident submarine is the sixth largest nuclear nation in the world all by itself," according to Rear Adm. Joseph Tofalo, commander, Submarine Group 10. 

Each of the warheads (up to 8 per missile) on a Trident missile are capable of incinerating hundreds of thousands of human beings and causing unimaginable suffering to the survivors of the immediate blast, heat and radiation unleashed in a matter of seconds. 

There are not enough burn beds available in the entire world's hospital inventory to treat the countless victims in the zone in which people would suffer massive third degree burns (in addition to other serious injuries).

The really big question in all this is, "Would any use of nuclear weapons involve a single warhead, or even missile for that matter?  Should any use of nuclear weapons initiate even a limited nuclear war, all bets are off!!!

Even a limited exchange of nuclear weapons would cause widespread fallout and the associated, immediate and long-term health effects - mutations, cancers, birth defects, and much more - would affect millions of human beings.

Furthermore, even a "limited" nuclear war, unleashing just 100 nuclear warheads of the size of the Hiroshima bomb (15 kilotons) would cause global famine.  Each Trident submarine, in extreme contrast, is estimated to currently deploy nearly that many thermonuclear warheads of either 100 or 475 kilotons yield!

Nuclear weapons are truly the gravest threat facing humanity, just as they have been for nearly seven decades.  As a retired public health professional I see it as the greatest global public health threat facing our shared planet.

Rather than working with other nations towards nuclear disarmament, the U.S. continues to build up not only its nuclear weapons infrastructure and weapons, but (with the plan to build new subs) also the systems that deploy those weapons.  This sends a dangerous, threatening message to both the nuclear and nuclear-capable nations.  The result is a burgeoning new nuclear arms race!

The promises made in President Obama's famous Prague speech are now distant, hollow, rhetorical echoes.  We must remind the President of his promises.  We must demand that our elected leaders, in both The White House and Congress, work in the interests of the people and not a deeply entrenched Military-Nuclear-Industrial Complex.

Should the Navy succeed in building a new fleet of Ohio class submarines, it will be one of the final nails (if not THE nail) in the proverbial coffin for global nuclear disarmament.  This must not stand!

We need every one's voice in the call to disarm!  In response to the cheer leading article in the Washington Post about the U.S. "overhauling" its "aging" nuclear arsenal, Catherine Thomasson, the president of Physicians for Social Responsibility wrote a concise response.

The Washington Post article, Aging U.S. nuclear arsenal slated for costly and long-delayed modernization, does not remotely question the government's premise that the U.S. must move forward with a sense of urgency to confront a "decrepit, neglected... aging nuclear weapons complex."

Brand new facilities either in construction or completed at Y-12, Kansas City, along with ongoing construction at Los Alamos; completely "refurbished" W76 thermonuclear warheads (deployed on Trident submarine launched ballistic missiles); just to mention a few key projects.  "Decrepit" and "neglected" just don't seem to be the right words to describe the nation's current nuclear weapons complex.

Thomasson, in her Op/Ed response sums up the situation.  It is all about the people who allegedly represent us "appeasing special interests with little regard to our long-term national security or the fiscal health of the country." They do so at humanity's peril!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

CTBT... What's in a Name???


The 16th anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) passed yesterday with little, if any, fanfare.

The CTBT bans all nuclear explosions in all environments, for military or civilian purposes. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 September 1996, but it has not yet entered into force.

When the treaty opened for signatures on September 24, 1996, it was signed by 71 States, including five of the eight then nuclear-capable states.  Since then the number of countries to have ratified the treaty has grown to 157.  Of the countries yet to sign, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States must ratify the treaty for it to enter into force (Note: The U.S. has signed but not ratified). 

Preparing for the world's first
nuclear weapons test, "Trinity".
There are a number of arguments both for and against U.S. ratification of the CTBT.  All other arguments aside, a strong case can be made that ratification by the major nuclear powers - Russian ratified the treaty in 2000) - would set an international standard that would push other nuclear-capable countries like North Korea, Pakistan, and India to sign.

The U.S. has set far too many conditions to be met for it to ratify the CTBT, and beyond that continues to engage in what many consider to be its own nuclear weapons testing, albeit nothing resembling the full scale nuclear weapons tests of yesteryear. 

The tests in question are what the U.S. refers to as "nonexplosive" or "subcritical" nuclear tests. 

"Scientists at the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico scrutinized plutonium activity under high pressure and heat levels like those of a detonating nuclear bomb, the National Nuclear Security Administration personnel said. The Z machine can generate X-rays of unparalleled intensity to mimic the fusion reactions of nuclear warheads, the sources indicated." (GSI, Sept, 21, 2012)
A rose (or skunk cabbage) by any other name...  The U.S., just last month, conducted the sixth of these "nonexplosive" plutonium trials.  What is next?  When is a test not a test???

As the U.S. keeps pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into its nuclear weapons infrastructure to design, build ("refurbish"), test, maintain and deploy the most modern nuclear force anywhere, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty languishes, awaiting the final ink.

The U.S. should be leading the way to disarmament, and in the case of the CTBT it is far too late for that; 157 other nations have already led the way.  That being said, it is not too late for the U.S. to follow their lead and demonstrate that it is part of a community of nations working together for the sake of future generations.  There is little downside.

It is high time to finally ratify the CTBT!!!

Click here to demand an end to all nuclear weapons testing!





Wickipedia on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Whitewashing Fukushima (by Harvey Wasserman)

Wikipedia defines "whitewashing as  "a metaphor meaning to gloss over or cover up vices, crimes or scandals or to exonerate by means of a perfunctory investigation or through biased presentation of data.[1] It is especially used in the context of corporations, governments or other organizations." 

Harvey Wasserman's essay titled Whitewashing Fukushima, published at EcoWatch on September 4, 2012 reminds me of the many inextricable links between nuclear weapons and nuclear power, in this case the whitewashing that governments (and industries involved) apply to both.

It is ever so important that we who are focused on abolishing nuclear weapons be in solidarity with our comrades working on the nuclear power side. 

Whitewashing Fukushima, By Harvey Wasserman

With every atomic reactor disaster comes the inevitable whitewash.
Harvey Wasserman
And Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal has just painted a tragic new coat over the radioactive wasteland of atomic flim-flam

Its Panic at Fukushima speaks volumes to a nuclear power industry now crumbling at the core. It fits an historic pattern.

When yet another radioactive leak emits from the local nuke—no matter how serious—the official response is hard-wired to include the phrase “no danger to the public.”

When serious structural cracks surface at reactors like Ohio’s Davis-Besse or Crystal River, Florida, safety concerns are invariably dismissed with well-funded contempt.

As with fatally flawed steam generators at California’s San Onofre, if it can make an extra buck, the industry will run these reactors into the ground, safety-be-damned. Protected by federal taxpayer insurance and the bankruptcy laws, they know even a catastrophic disaster need not trouble their bottom line.
When earthquakes rattle reactors in Virginia and Ohio, or threaten others near New York City and Los Angeles, the public is “never in danger.” Likewise a generation of Japanese heard for decades that reactors at Fukushima and Kashiwazaki were “perfectly safe.”

But, now that earthquakes have hammered them both, we know who pays.

At Three Mile Island, there was “no melting of fuel” until, nine years later, robotic cameras showed there certainly was.

“Nobody died” at Three Mile Island until epidemiological evidence showed otherwise. (Disclosure: In 1980 I interviewed the dying and bereaved in central Pennsylvania, leading to the 1982 publication of Killing Our Own).

Three Mile Island was a “success story” for industry apologist Patrick Moore, whose accounting skills apparently include cheerily alchemizing a $2 billion liability from a $900 million asset.

Likewise, the Soviet Union said not to worry as Chernobyl spewed lethal radioactive clouds across Europe and into the jet stream that contaminated the entire northern hemisphere. One “scientist” said the fallout would “improve” human health in downwind Ukraine and Belarus, where stillbirths, malformations and birth defects still run rampant.

The Soviet Union is now dead…except in the hearts of a corporate media still parroting the Politburo lie that only 31 people died at Chernobyl, rather than the million-and-counting that now seems likely.
For Fukushima, the inevitable Murdoch whitewash comes from a one-time Koch-funded climate skeptic named Richard Muller. He says Fukushima has harmed virtually no one except the nuclear industry, which the Japanese people have all but shut.

Muller’s article occupies a parallel pro-nuclear universe. Virtually devoid of actual fact, it is meticulously dissected by SimplyInfo in a brilliant primer on the health impacts of a truly apocalyptic nightmare that is far from over.

Entitled The Truth vs. the Wall Street Journal, SimplyInfo’s dissection is deja vu all over again. he once-prestigious Journal disgraces itself in vintage Murdoch style with some truly embarrassing errors and anachronisms. Simply and briefly:

1. The Journal astonishingly minimizes the death toll at Hiroshima and Nagasaki using speculative data that has been discredited for decades. It ignores the findings by Japanese scientists that Fukushima has (thus far) spewed nearly 30 times as much radioactive cesium as did the Bombings;
2. The Journal’s totally discredited averaging assumptions say Fukushima’s fallout will nicely administer uniform minimal doses for everyone. But the fallout has gone global. Plutonium, cesium, strontium and other killer isotopes tend to come down in clumps and clusters, heavily dosing some while missing others. As at TMI, Chernobyl and now Fukushima, woe be to the unlucky masses who get rained on;
3. The averaging argument jumps off the rails with pregnant women, as well as small children, the elderly, the biologically sensitive. At TMI, the owners’ advertising compared the fallout to a single x-ray for everyone in the area. But a doubled childhood leukemia rate has long been linked to a single x-ray administered to a fetus in utero. Pregnant women exposed to these small doses must brace for the worst.
4. The Journal admits that Fukushima was not designed to withstand a 9.0 earthquake and 50-foot tidal wave. The quake’s epi-center was more than 100 miles offshore, but all three Fukushima reactors operating at the time melted and exploded. Diablo Canyon, San Onofre, Indian Point are no safer. Nearby fault lines could reduce them and others to rubble, followed by emissions whose death toll would be virtually impossible to calculate.
5. The Journal has published a heavily edited rebuttal from Michael Mariotte of the Nuclear Information & Resource Service pointing out that sea-ward winds saved Japan—including Tokyo—from suffering far heavier doses. But like Chernobyl, Fukushima’s radiation has long since reached our shores, with a serious potential death toll.
Fukushima erupted 66 years after Hiroshima/Nagasaki, 32 since Three Mile Island, 25 after Chernobyl. The atomic industry seems defined by a reverse learning curve.

Perhaps it could heed Jeffrey Immelt, president of General Electric, who warns that nuclear power has no economic future. GE’s brand is all over Fukushima. Small wonder Immelt wants to join Siemens et. al. in a green-powered Solartopian future, built on renewable technologies like wind, solar and bio-fuels.

No verbal contortions can ever cleanse what Forbes Magazine long ago branded “the largest managerial disaster in American history.” No error-filled whitewash will ever convince our bodies that radiation is good for us.

While Rupert Murdoch helps paint a happy face on a dying industry, we continue to pay with our money and our lives.


Source URL: http://ecowatch.org/2012/whitewashing-fukushima/