EDWISE 

EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT

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nuclear power

Posted on February 6, 2020 at 9:41 PM
NUCLEAR POWER in the USA
 -a child of the US imperialist military-industrial complex; profits and service to corporations and the military come before people


Nuclear reactors are dangerous, however used, because of their potential for colossal explosions. For this reason, both nuclear weaponry and nuclear energy have been sharply criticized from the very beginning of the development of this technology. Objections to science being subordinated to both military and commercial interests abound. Nevertheless, nuclear armed weapons and nuclear power stations have proliferated.
 
Never mind trying to restrain the nuclear power industry, both weapons development and energy supply, there is even staunch resistance to safety regulations and disaster management. Why? First, nuclear technology is a huge and very lucrative industry. Profitable businesses maximize productivity by cutting corners on labour and tools. Second, the ruling powers desire nuclear weaponry as a form of defense of their power and status.
 
Much of contemporary technology was created in military laboratories before being commercialized, from computerization and communications, to chemical toxins and nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion was experimented with during World War 2 when the US air force caused hundreds of thousands of immediate and delayed human deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. German scientists at the behest of their Nazi masters may have started the development of nuclear weapons; this is the official reason why the US created the Atomic Commission and began the Manhattan Project under the supervision of physicist Dr. Oppenheimer and US Army Colonel Leslie R. Groves to achieve nuclear fusion and nuclear arms.
 
It is ironic that nuclear power was seen as a clean energy source as the environmental movement grew from the 1960s on. This became a key selling point. Plans to build nuclear power stations all over the US and in other countries were soon under way. There are currently 60 nuclear power stations with 98 nuclear reactors in 30 states in the USA. Has everything gone smoothly, without incident? Far from it, as everyone knows.
 
There have been three major nuclear power station accidents in the world. The first was the Three Mile Island station catastrophe in Pennsylvania. It happened in 1979 because of a failed water pump, which prevented cooling while causing so much hydraulic pressure that a pressure release valve malfunctioned as well. Reactor number two melted down and a radiation leak occurred. There were no directly resulting deaths or injuries.
 
The second nuclear power station disaster was Chernobyl in the Ukraine, USSR, in 1986 when explosions occurred due to a deliberate shutdown safety and emergency mechanisms for the purpose of safety improvement, ironically. There were 42 immediate and delayed deaths and thousands of people were forced to evacuate
 
The latest tragedy was the worst ever. About 100,000 people around the Fukushima Daiichi power station were forced to flee after an earthquake was followed by a devastating tsunami which flooded three reactors, causing a failure in their cores resulting in hydrogen explosions, and damaged a fourth in 2011. The surrounding waters and air were contaminated. By 2012, it was estimated that 573 people died in 13 municipalities.
 
Former Chairperson of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Gregory B. Jaczko, was one of the nuclear physicists who arrived on the Fukushima scene to assess the accident. In his 2019 book, Confessions of Rogue Nuclear Regulator, he explains the both the recalcitrance and hubris of nuclear power engineers who, prior to the Fukushima disaster, has believed that neither flooding nor hydrogen explosions in the cores were possible.
 
The occurrence of smaller accidents in the US had been compelling him to seek changes. For example, he tried to stop the use of parts made with Alloy 600, which had been identified as substandard since the 1980s. The leak at the David-Besse station was caused by inferior parts whose alloys could not withstand the chemical processes inside reactors, namely exposure to boric acid. Jacko’s three-year experience in the NRC taught him about the internal and external resistance to technical safety improvements and regulation. He made several efforts to enhance safety controls but was blocked and even punished and belittled for trying.  In sum, the NRC functions more to protect the industry, he states, than to ensure public safety.
 
Many citizens’ organizations have been advocating for restraint, technical safeguards and better emergency measures to address the possibility of nuclear accidents, organizations in the USA and around the globe. One concerned citizen in New Hampshire learned that regional evacuation plans would not protect persons with mobility problems. Moreover, local police officers confided that emergency personnel were not properly equipped to carry out existing emergency evacuations (Stephen Comley, Sr., unpublished manuscript entitled No Evacuation Possible). While butting heads with the state authorities and mainstream media to sound the alarm about the evacuation issues, he consulted engineers at a local nuclear power plant. That is when he learned of the continued use of counterfeit and substandard parts in the plant. Use of these faulty parts was widespread in nuclear plants around the country. Comley therefore created a non-profit, whistleblower protection organization, from which he gathered and spread information, much to the deep consternation and ire of the industry and its defenders among the political elite. For over 30 years, he has been ignored, ridiculed, persecuted and defamed for his honest and conscientious concern. He has suffered family conflict, social isolation, health setbacks for his trouble.
 
 
 After leaving the whistleblower organization in he hands of someone else, Stephen Comley, Sr., was dismayed when the new leader of this group failed to make any statement with respect to the Fukushima accident. It was his feelings for the victims of that accident that Comley joined the ILPS Peace Tour to Japan in 2014. He joined activists of the Asia Wide Campaign against US Domination and Aggression and others at the commemorative street action at Hiroshima memorial park and followed them to the ceremony at Nagasaki. It was then that he came to see the connection between the US military and the US nuclear power industry, he told us. Since then, he has also learned the value of grassroots organizing and found more allies among progressive groups and the alternative media.

Categories: communication, living, positive thinking, just peace, social justice and change

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7 Comments

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Thinking and Doing It Positively

Household Treasures

11 January 2021

I heard an interviewee speaking over the radio talk about cherishing items in the home. It is one way to explore and enjoy surroundings without traveling, he said​I'll try it.


A lot of objects on display in my apartment are artifacts from my travels, ironically. They refresh my most poignant memories of precious and mind-opening explorations.


Sitting atop the filing cabinet next to my desk are to souvenirs from South Korea, where I worked and resided for 10 years. After such a lengthy stay, I have loads of memories prompted by numerous artifacts of my experiences in that country. These two are among the best reflections of cultural and historical particularities of South Korea. They are a framed photo of a hero central to the labour and national democratic struggles and an ornament from folk culture in the countryside of the southern part of South Korea.


Jun Tae-Il was a courageous student activist leading actions against the last dictatorship in his country. He represents the heart of the movement and the victory for democracy. He became a martyr when the police fatally shot him while he was demonstrating in the street in Seoul, the capitol. The ornament is an ceramic fertility fetish, an image of a penis from one of several such parks in the southern region where I used to live. This part of the country remained tribal longer than other parts, so folk traditions such as shamanism and superstitions have endured. Fertility monuments were erected (pun intended), of course, bring about more healthy children. The foreigner exploring such parks giggle at the sights. 


Next to the filing cabinet is a bookshelf. One of the most noticeable objects near the top of this piece of furniture is a tacky, plastic, white alarm clock. It is significant because I bought it to ensure I woke up on time on my last morning living in South Korea. I had an early flight. As a small travel alarm clock had recently failed, and I was not sure my phone alarm would wake me fully, I picked up a cheap clock at a local general store. I don't use it as its ticking is noisy, but I have not thought to give it away. It remains perched on the shelf, deprived of a battery, as a reminder of my departure from the ex-pat life and return to Canada. 


I also have items saved from two trips to Cuba, one in 2003 and one in 2019. Both trips were organized political events. The first took me there with a political choral group to meet Cuban choirs, learn some of their songs, perform with Cubans, attend the May 1st rally, meet labour associations and tour the island for two weeks. I am looking at a typical replication of a sketch of Che Gevarra which one can find easily in street markets. Our choir, supportive of the Cuban revolution, valued the Cuban revolutionary democracy, social arrangements and political principals which that image, the most famous in all the world, represents to millions of people. It inspires and gives hope. I remember strolling through the streets, visiting markets and restaurants, chatting with locals and attending all the meetings on our hectic schedule. I have other little treasures such as a ceramic, hand painted ashtray, photos of our Cuban comrades, and an African-Cuban, wooden statuette.


Above my desk hang a pair of water colour paintings in wood frames. They portray sites in southern Manitoba in the general area where my grandparents met, married and bore my mother. They feature two views of the banks of the Red River, a river highly important to Canadian history. There were battles against invading Americans launched there and a key struggle of the Métis nation. The city of Winnipeg lies nearby, which used to be the industrial hub of Canada until the Panama Canal opened up and undermined the Canadian railway system. I have only passed through Winnipeg by car. This area is not one I remember, for I have never visited it. 


On the floor near my desk lies a wicker hamper. I have mixed feelings about it, but it has been very useful, so I have kept it. You see, it belonged to my father's second wife. My father remarried this odd, older person rather quickly after my mother passed, which denied her children necessary time to adjust. I carried resentment about her, but chose to avoid them rather than say anything or show my negative feelings. As I said, it is a practical item for it holds linens and Christmas stuff and allows aeration through the woven stems.


I originally bought the filing cabinet to organize research, not academic information but information found in the course of activism and stabs at political journalism. It therefore stores records of several international and regional conferences. Though I purge it once in awhile, there are still clippings, leaflets and pamphlets. They cover issues such as Canadian mining firms abroad, human rights cases, privacy rights, student concerns and transportation. I have been replacing old articles and folders with my own writing pieces. Among them are also old, self-published newsletters addressing local and international issues, some of my published articles and unpublished poems. 




Conversational News

10 January 2021

It is so good to be able to express myself and have contact with readers through this blog again. The loss of the access to my blog along with other aspects of confinement and restrictions really affected me. There were added unsettling restrictions due to circumstances, even including access to my games when Adobe Flash Player was removed. I was feeling the mounting stress of rising COVID cases and the awareness of the damages inflicted by this disease as well as the damage inflicted by states that remain focused on helping profitable enterprises more than addressing the disease and health care and financial interventions fully and equitably. Most such as Canada are handing the responsibility of pandemic management to individuals. Very unjust!


I had been handling the conditions of the pandemic fairly well, but emotions were catching up to me in December as I personally began to feel tired and stressed. I started to feel irritable and alarmed. I looked forward to two weekends at home over Christmas and New Years, but the employer wanted me to work on the Saturdays. Saturday being the heaviest work day for me with five hours straight teaching and two hours travel, I had been wanting relief to get a chance to rest and calm down. I ended up taking the Saturday following NY Day off, which certainly helped. I am much better now.


I did not carry through with my usual practice of personal assessment and planning in December as is my habit. I was too agitated. I did not want to reflect on this past year, actually. Not then.


Anyway, there is not any change in my goals. I generally carried through with financial, livelihood, social, family, health and growth goals. However, the social and family goals were frustrated by Covid-19 rules. However, there are elder relatives with multiple health problems whose mental health was being upset by the situation, so I have been visiting with them in cafes and such. They are better now. I have also been aiding an elderly neighbour whose health, already in decline this year, was getting worse partially because of Covid-related restraints. (Her degrading sight and hearing, as well as shaking and loss of balance, caused her to stop driving permanently, and skeletal issues caused her to stop regular exercise. She is worried she will be forced to consider entering a facility while many care homes are in crisis!) My exercise regime was also compromised. The local fitness center remains open but I perceive it as risky, so I do not go there. Aside from some hiking and walking to accomplish transit and errands, I haven't been exercising much until recently. Now I do some yoga, lunging, stretching and weighted arm raises sometimes. I am prevented this week because of an inflammation (hemorrhoid caused by lengthy sitting!).


 One big factor affecting stress and anxiety levels is news reportage. State and private corporate news services, like most enterprises today, try to streamline by relying more on tech and web browsing to find news topics. There are fewer reporters and there is less extended, investigative reporting. For the past decade at least, such services have resorted to "conversational journalism." It is an adjustment to distrust of news and official authorities during a trend of democratization, I feel. However, it tends to keep popularity and viewer or reader stats in mind. Topics can be sensationalized by rehashing events and speculation. Commentators are brought in to discuss as are senior reporters, but the discussion is not very productive in that it does not lead to increased knowledge. Rather, it keeps generating more questions. Conversations often entertain unanswerable questions, particularly because there can be no resolution. They just push the topic and stimulate possible answers to stir up controversy and alarm in order to improve ratings. Pertinent information might be omitted if it actually answers a question. Once audiences abandon a thread, they turn to some other topic and start over. It is really unconscionable because of the innuendo, speculation, rumour, omission, lack of investigation, assumptions and biases.


The COVID coverage is a clear case in point. Partial information is supplied, such as a medical official's announcement that is partly based in some truth. The announcement is questioned. Opponents are recruited to present the false arguments. Sideline topics are raised to create more friction. Proper sources are ignored. Questions are recycled and spin round and round with no conclusion. The affect is understandable: alarm, anxiety, fear, stress, accusations, complaints, etc.


I follow a couple of doctors who produce daily videos to update viewers on scientific developments and explore reasoning behind government and medical decisions regarding the pandemic. I rely on Dr. John Campble and Doctor Moran. Find them on Youtube. Campbell is the most digestable, for he uses plain English, which Moran is more technical. The latter seems to be addressing people in the medical field. By following Campbell, in particular, I can see the gaps in the regional and national news reporting. I can see that they are lagging behind the news by ignoring or failing to search for reliable information.

We're Back

07 January 2021

Apologies to my followers and viewers. You have been very supportive and encouraging for many years. I might have disappointed some of you who were looking for new entries from me. 


Let me explain. VISTAPRINT changed its platform last year. When they did that, the method for making blog entries changed. I had no information from them about what to do. It simply appeared that I know longer had any blogging service. 


However, I just spoke to a VISTAPRINT rep who guided me. I can now write blog entries, as you can see.


It was a strange year all the way around. Things seemed kind of more chaotic than usual. I felt agitated and stressed last month for no definite reason. I had trouble sleeping. I felt exhausted.


My general astrology reading asserted that the pulling away of Jupiter, one of my planets and a very powerful one, from Saturn would make Sagitarians feel exhausted by the end of December. Despite the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic, it does indeed feel like I worked and accomplished a lot (activism, teaching, writing). Things are supposed to get easier for us Sagges. 


There was added stress because of the effects of the pandemic. Not only that but worse, state aggression seemed to increased around the world, causing civilian mass responses. Though I had handled it pretty well until the end of 2020, I guess it finally got to me and I started soaking up some of the stress and anxiety emitting from my region and beyond.


2021 is starting out a bit weird, too. Just look at yesterday's events. U.S. Whitehouse invasion. Solar flare sending rays that caused several storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. More lockdowns. 


I wish all my readers well. I will resume entering focused pieces when I have more time. Please stick with me. Thank you for your comments to date.


Ed Wise

TEST

15 January 2020

THIS IS A TEST OF THE NEW PLATFORM FORMAT AND BLOG ENTRY SYSTEM.

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