Today’s Chicagoland press accounts of the arrest of two alleged ISIS supporters — Yusuf Abdulhaqq and Schimento – aka Abdul Wali – show the pair holding the ISIS flag while standing in front of the “Welcome” sign for Illinois Beach State Park in Zion.
What is perhaps most disturbing is what is NOT being reported about this incident: that those dramatic photos were taken a ten minute walk south of the 1000+ tons of high-level radioactive wastes (HLRW) being stored at Exelon’s Zion Nuclear Power Station, currently undergoing decommissioning. [See: Google Maps]
These wastes are the accumulation of the entire lifetime output from the now-closed reactors. They are currently being stored in what are called “dry-cask” canisters, and are extremely hazardous should they be released into the environment by “accident”, or terrorist intent.
Because the federal government long ago reneged on its pledge to permanently dispose of these high-level radioactive wastes in a deep geological disposal facility back in 1998, currently all such HLRW from every reactor in the nation is being stored onsite at those reactor sites, with no place to safely go. This transforms communities with closed reactors into de facto high-level radioactive waste storage dumps.
Since 2002 the safe-energy and environmental community has advocated that these “orphaned” wastes be stored in much safer configurations, employing what is known as “hardened onsite storage” (HOSS). This method would utilize the currently used “dry-cask” canisters, but in a much more robust configuration to minimize conceivable hazards. Both the nuclear industry and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have repeatedly rejected this proposal as “too expensive.” Our organization suggested this method be utilized at the decommissioned Zion reactor site; but again, this was rejected by Exelon and its contractor
Given that these wastes sit only a few hundred yards from the drinking water supply for 16 million people known as Lake Michigan, one can rightly ask – how much is the Lake worth, by comparison?
While it is tempting to urge for quickly moving such wastes out of Zion, the reality is that 1.) there is no place for the wastes to go; and 2.) placing 1,000 tons of high-level radioactive wastes on our crumbling roads and rails, and possibly our fresh waterways without first preparing and greatly improving that infrastructure would be more dangerous and irresponsible. If these wastes represent a hazard sitting still at Zion, they represent an even greater hazard at 40-60 mph on our roads and rails, as the recent March 15th derailment of rail cars carrying molten sulfur in Lake Forest amply demonstrate.
NOTE: a March 9, 2017 report by The American Society of Civil Engineers gives Illinois “D” and “D-“ rating for its roads and transit lines, respectively – and that’s higher than the national average!
Federal proposals to create “centralized interim storage” (CIS) sites around the country to take these orphaned wastes are equally problematic, since they would first require presently hazardous transportation of the wastes, and because they would create even more radioactively contaminated sites requiring clean-up at a future date when the federal government opens a final disposal facility. At that point the wastes would have to be transported a second time to the disposal facility. It is also not widely known that a June 2012 study from Oak Ridge National Lab indicates that Illinois would be the optimal location for the first of such CIS facilities. The first such site would not likely be ready to accept wastes for the next 8 to 10 years; and given the demonstrated pace at which the federal government moves, might itself become a de facto permanent storage site indefinitely.
NOTE: One estimate done for the Zion wastes alone at a CIS over a 40-year period shows it would cost between $153-$289 million.
So – what should be done now? NEIS again recommends that,
1.) since the radioactive wastes represent a clear hazard, and
2.) there is no place to responsibly send the HLRW to, that
3.) local communities that have become de facto HLRW dumps are given maximum protection in the meantime by storing the HLRW in “hardened onsite storage” facilities onsite at the reactor sites, and
4.) that these communities receive compensation for the economic damage that being an unwilling de facto HLRW dump has done to their communities. From there we can resurrect a responsible and science-based investigation to identify an appropriate final disposal facility.
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3 days ago
We always drop by the #RadiumGirls Memorial when passing through Ottawa, Illinois to leave flowers and pay our respects. These young factory workers were encouraged by the company to lick the radium soaked paint brushes to sharpen their points to increase productivity of glow in the dark watches. Even when the company knew of the health hazard they continued the practice, telling the girls that radium would “make their cheeks rosy.” The girls contracted horrible cancers, their bones became honeycombed and brittle, breaking constantly, and several girls jaws fell off. The company tried to draw out the ensuing legal proceedings in hopes that the girls would all die off before any could collect. It became a watershed case that led to many workplace protections and regulations that are now under threat from the current administration. The surrounding area still has radium contaminated water many decades later. Businesses in Ottawa resisted putting up the memorial but a combination of local unions and current and former area residents were able to push it through. A big salute to these young heroes. ... See MoreSee Less
1 week ago
A testimony sent by an Ohio resident to Ohio legislators to stop the bailout of nuclear energy.
We hope Ohio residents and legislators learn from Illinois’ bad decision to bailout nuclear energy in 2016. We warned at that time it would never be enough and the nuclear industry would be back for more in Illinois. Indeed they are coming back next legislative session seeking a bailout that will rig the system of energy purchases in their favor in Illinois. Our advice to Ohio, end nuclear energy now.
Opposition to HB6
This is the third time I have stood before the Ohio State Legislature testifying in opposition to House Bill 6. At the first hearing in front of the House Energy Generation Subcommittee, dozens spoke in opposition. Since then, hundreds have protested this Bill, thousands have learned about how awful it is, and now the economic and environmental future of millions hangs in the balance.
First Energy has given this body a deadline. They have dictated the timeline for this decision, saying that you MUST decide by the end of this month. But the urgency in this situation is theirs, not yours. As the old joke goes, "Your incompetence does not represent an emergency on my part," and the amount of incompetence on display here by First Energy is staggering. Back in 2014, when First Energy was applying to the NRC for renewal of its license for Davis-Besse, those of us who oppose nuclear power held a People's Hearing in Toledo. In that event, we laid out for that company that they would make more money by closing their nukes and switching to wind and solar power. They ignored us, went all in on nuclear, and went bankrupt. Now, they are coming to you, begging for yet another bailout, billions in ratepayer charges on top of the billions in bailouts they've already received.
But, there are much more fundamental questions here than whether or not we should bail out one corrupt, incompetent company that enjoys a state enforced monopoly on electricity. The true question before this body is "How are we going to power our society?" This is a very deep question, and should NOT be rushed into. Corporations should not be dictating to the people through this body what kind of an energy policy our society should have. Corporations are amoral. They have no soul, no conscience, no values, beyond sucking as much money out of the economy as possible to give to their shareholders. There is a reason government exists. There is a reason we elect legislators to make decisions and don't simply allow boards of directors and CEO's to run our society. It's because you have the ability to look beyond the money First Energy is offering you to the deeper questions. The deep, moral question here is "Do we have the right to generate radioactive nuclear wastes that will kill, maim, and cause disease for our descendants for hundreds of thousands of years, just so that we can have a moment of electricity." The answer is "NO," especially since there are perfectly practical alternatives. Alternatives that are clean, efficient, and MORE economical than nuclear power.
I've attached the testimony I gave before the House Energy Generation Subcommittee. In it, I document the success of Germany's policy of shutting its nukes and coal generation and replacing them with wind and solar. I won't repeat all that testimony, but to summarize, Germany has the most stable grid and the strongest economy in Europe. It has gone from an energy importer, when it was dependent on nukes and coal, to an energy exporter now that it has substantial wind and solar power. All over the world, wind power is the fastest growing form of energy because it is inexpensive, practical, and can be deployed quickly with a utility scale turbine going up in less than a month. Wind and solar are the sources of energy that can bring us to a clean energy future, and Germany is leading the way.
Ohio is running away. "All of the above" is not an energy policy. It is a lack of an energy policy. It is declaring an inability to choose between what is good and what is bad. It is an excuse to make bad decisions. Deciding to go with nuclear power is the worst possible decision economically, and it is an evil decision. In poll after poll, Ohioans of all economic and political backgrounds has asked for increases of truly clean, renewable energy--wind and solar power. Instead you are being asked to force nuclear and coal power on them. To reference the New Testament, the people of Ohio have asked for eggs, and you are considering giving them serpents.
During the "debate" on this bill before the full house. Rep. Stein defended the setback law the Ohio State Legislature passed in 2014 which effectively stopped wind farm development in Ohio by telling an emotional story of an imaginary little girl, killed by a wind turbine a mile away that threw off a blade or some such thing. The thing is that little girl was IMAGINARY. Nuclear power has killed real children. One of the reasons the Europeans are closing their nukes is that studies show that within four or five miles of a nuclear plant, leukemia rates double, thyroid cancer rates double, and miscarriages double. The young and the unborn are the most susceptible to nuclear radiation because their cells are rapidly dividing. How can this body, which just passed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country while wailing about protecting the unborn child, then a few weeks later turn around and choose to sacrifice those same unborn children upon the altar of nuclear energy by choosing an energy source that generates radioactive pollution?
Those increases in cancer near a nuclear plant come from the relatively small routine releases of gasses that nuclear plants generate during normal operations. But, those releases are microscopic compared to the tons of nuclear wastes being generated and stored at nuclear plants. Some of the wastes that nuclear power generates stay deadly for hundreds of thousands of years. There are over 200 different kinds radioactive atoms being generated in every nuclear plant every moment that they operate. These atoms act like suicide bombers in the body, getting absorbed, incorporated with regular atoms in our cells, and then exploding, causing the damage that causes death, cancer, other diseases and mutations. You do not have the right to subject all our descendants to this man made scourge for the next 10,000 generations. If you pass this bill, if you choose nuclear power over wind and solar, you will have the blood of uncountable children on your hands.
Nuclear power was created based on the lie that we would one day be able to solve the problem of the waste it creates. What we have learned over the last 50 years is that there is NO way to truly isolate any part of the Earth from another. That we are all connected to everything else on this planet through countless cycles of energy and water, and carbon, and air. We are in this moment, literally breathing in atoms that were in the breath of lions, and eagles a few months ago. That is how thoroughly everything on Earth is mixed together. To throw radioactive atoms into that mix is immoral. Radiation is antithetical to life. Something else we have learned is just how fragile that life is and how lucky we are to be protected from the radiation that fills most of the universe. You are being asked to take our fragile, protected place in the universe and fill it with deadly radiation. In exchange, you are being offered money, power, and influence. This is that moral decision that you've always been told you would have to make someday. We know how the amoral corporation First Energy wants you to vote. They've spent millions trumpeting their point of view over every kind of media there is. But the truth doesn't need to be shouted at you over and over. The truth speaks for itself, and the truth is this bill is evil and you were put here to protect future generations, not sacrifice them for your own short term gain. Do your job as a legislator, not as an employee of First Energy, choose an energy future for Ohio that is clean, sustainable and benefits all Ohioans, those that pay electric bills today, and those yet to be born.
Take time to make this decision. Travel to Germany and other places in the world where wind and sun are creating a truly clean, Green future. Find out for yourself how practical it is. Don't let First Energy shove this evil policy on the people of Ohio.
-Joseph DeMare ... See MoreSee Less