By C.A.N. member Cecile Pineda

Nuclear News in a Radioactive Capsule

All of a sudden, and quite without warning, TEPCO, the Japanese Government and the Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Agency have declared an emergency at Fukushima Daiichi. The real emergency is that these worthy entities have waited two and a half years to give a PR name to what Devil’s Tango perceived from the beginning.

All along, like good fiction writers, TEPCO has been slow-unpacking their narrative.  First, there were no meltdowns.  The problem would go away in 40 years. Mission Accomplished. Then three months later, TEPCO suddenly remembered it was overseeing not one, not two, but three meltdowns; and one more reactor (unit 4) whose structural integrity had been compromised by the M9 earthquake of March 11, 2011.

This month, just in time to mark Hiroshima/Nagasaki Day, TEPCO announced that 300 tons of radioactive water are leaking into the Pacific every day and that this leak (read: hemorrhage) had been on-going ever since the start of the catastrophe.

John Bertucci pictures the movie: The lady Judge (who’s on the TEPCO Board) & TEPCO CEO:

She: You know you can’t keep storing all this water for a thousand years, it’s got to go into the ocean.
He: OMG then the people are gonna hate our company, and what about the fishermen!
She: Don’t worry, we’ll call it an “emergency”
He: Oooh, I like the way you think…
She: Yes, let’s see, it’s April, I think we can roll this out in July. Let me get my media assets up to speed.

Various “authorities” have chimed in as could be expected:  “Cesium and Strontium sink to the ocean bottom.  Tritium is quickly neutralized (only 30 years)”; but no one, no one is talking—in official circles at least—about the food chain.  What happens when all that plankton absorbs radionuclides, and small fry begin to ingest it, in turn to be swallowed by larger fish, and eventually by top feeders such as tuna, marlin, and swordfish? If BP can kill a Gulf, why can’t TEPCO kill an ocean?

The US is not testing seafood, not yet, although there is a call from the AMA and the Natural Resource Defense Council to the FDA and NOAA to strengthen the current protocols. As it now stands, the US is allowing 20 times the levels of Strontium & Cesium currently allowed by the Japanese government. It’s interesting to note that then-Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton (“we came, we saw, they died!”), who may run and lose in 2016, thus throwing the election over to the Repugnicans (which may have been the plan all along) sent a secret letter to the Japanese Government guaranteeing that the US would continue importing foodstuffs from Japan without the formality of testing. Although Clinton holds a serious position in Entergy (business plan: buy up old, embrittling reactors and run them at even faster speeds than originally specified) she objects when GE-manufactured Mark I Indian Point reactor (owned by Entergy), vents radioactive steam into the environment. Indian Point is only 8 miles distant from her home.

And today’s bulletin from Vermont Yankee, another decrepit GE Mark I owned by Entergy: Breaking: State loses appeal on right to close Vermont Yankee.
Three judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals decided Wednesday that the Vermont Legislature is federally preempted from shutting down the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. Is it possible that the Federal Government can blow off any consideration of the people in Vermont who are living with a collapsing reactor?

And here we go again with Yucca Mountain:
But Yucca is a joke. The Western Shoshone could have told any White Man willing to listen (that may be an oxymoron):  Yucca is swimming westward.  It’s 10% water. To get the skinny, have a look at one of the best reads in the Devil’s Tango bibliography: John D’Agata: About a Mountain.

This Program Has Been Pre-emptied

Long in the making, supported by groups of local activists all along the way, my mid-California tour (August 6 – 16) had to be deferred. I traded being on the road for chaining myself to the bedstead. Appearances in Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Fresno, Oakland, and San Jose have been postponed, but thanks to the willingness of drivers to pick me up at 5:50 AM and deliver me back to bed by 9, I was able to address the 200 folks who braved the morning chill for the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Day commemoration at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. My address was brief:

Clowns, Crooks and Criminals

Last week, the BBC news reported that the government of Japan, the Tokyo Electric & Power Company, and the Japanese nuclear regulatory agency declared Fukushima an Emergency because trillions of gallons of radioactive water had been leaking into the Pacific since the explosions of 2011, and a retaining wall built to hold in the ground water from seeping into the ocean had just been breached.

The nuclear industry is in the hands of Clowns, Crooks & Criminals. I leave it to you to figure out the Who’s Who.

We, and all others of like mind, are the only ones standing between a corrupt industry, both its weapons and energy making cycles, and—ultimately—survival of life on this planet.

From its inception, nuclear energy has been inextricably linked to nuclear war. As early as 1953, Monsanto’s then-vice president, Dr. Charles Thomas, pointed out that nuclear energy could not be a profitable undertaking unless it provided bomb-grade plutonium to the atomic weapons industry.  He advocated creating a dual-purpose plutonium reactor, one which, could produce plutonium for weapons, and electricity for commercial use.
How many of us are here today because we want to lend our efforts to making nuclear war obsolete?  Show of hands..?

Would it trouble you to know that we are in the midst of a long-existing nuclear war right NOW? The by-product of the fuel enrichment process for refining U235 produces U238, named by the whitewash industry “Depleted” Uranium.  There is nothing “depleted” about a substance so lethal, it has a half-life as old as this planet: 4.5 billion years.  From the time Depleted Uranium-tipped ordnance was first used in Kosovo, depleted Uranium or (DU) has contaminated the soils, water, air and food chain in Iraq, and at least five other countries where it has been used by the US and its NATO surrogates. In Iraq now, of 100 live births, 15 are of horrifically deformed living beings.  Doctors in Iraq have gone on the record stating, “Iraq is no longer a place to have children.” DU has come home to roost as early as 1991 when returning GIs began complaining of a mysterious set of ailments the VA conveniently dismissed as “Gulf Syndrome.” Gulf syndrome is uranium poisoning.

The issue of nuclear war is upon us NOW. It is not by any means a dormant issue.  It is an on-going issue right NOW.

There is no other way than for the nuclear weapons abolition movement to join forces now with the nonukes movement, and to recognize and make common cause. Because the anti-nuclear issue, like all the many causes we are fighting for now, has links to the enviro justice movement, the climate justice movement, because it largely exploits people of color and religious minorities: the Mormons in  Utah, the Moslems in  Chelyabinsk, as well as Navajo miners, the inhabitants of the Marshall Islands and other Polynesians who were impacted by atmospheric testing, it links up with the fight for racial and economic equality; it is a reproductive rights issue (as well as a gender issue) because exposure to radiation is catastrophic to DNA, especially in utero; it is directly linked to the labor movement because atomic workers show a heightened incidence of cancers and leukemia, but MOST OF ALL, because of its secrecy, and fiat decision-making, it links us all together—all of our movements: It is fundamentally opposed to the democratic process. And that democratic process is where all our struggles converge.

That is why, if we can aspire to having any clout in the face of a government which is becoming more secretive, more autocratic—and more punitive—by the day, we must unite all our movements under this one aegis: the fight to affirm democracy in a country which no longer practices it.

We can no longer afford the single-issue politics which separates our struggles and makes them impotent.

Technological (and other) Substitutes
When you’re 80 years old, sprawled like beached whale because you have pneumonia and can’t remember how to get out of bed, and you keep thinking of lugging that suitcase aboard a train the next day at 6 AM to go on a speaking tour, you realize that the time has come when you can no longer claim to be irreplaceable.  You know it’s time to let technology work for you. Especially when you have an archive of audio interviews, videos, and articles you can e-mail in your stead.

Here’s the latest audio: Kate Raphael’s interviewing for “Women’s Magazine” on KPFA August 12.

WILPF member, Peggy Olsen, projected this video in Monterey and reports back that it sparked a lively discussion: “Cecile Pineda rocks and rolls! at San Francisco Occupy Enviro Forum”

In San Luis Obispo, Mothers-for-Peace Molly Johnson is in line for the Oscar. She read two sections from Devil’s Tango (“Habitable Zones,” and “Flickerings of Fear”) and brought down a packed house. And WILPF member, Jean Hays in Fresno scored at the last minute, inviting Dr. Robert Gould to speak. Jean wrote: “He was excellent, but we really wanted to hear you.”

The best place to read fan mail happens to be in bed.

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