One of the publications that I’ve been receiving for years is Nukewatch which comes out quarterly and is filled – every inch of it – with the latest information on nuclear power, nuclear weapons, nuclear accidents and nuclear waste.
The following is an abridged version of their Spring 2014 issue plus a paragraph from the spring edition 2014 of The Catholic Worker.
NEW NUCLEAR ARMS
In February the Defense Department announced a preliminary test of the new nuclear B61-12 bomb – part of the Obama’s administration “extensive upgrade of all nuclear weapons systems: missiles, bombs, submarines, fighters, warheads and the supporting complex and factories.” It’s been harshly criticized as a new H-bomb and an open contravention of the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s obligation to pursue nuclear disarmament in good faith. Whereas, in March the German parliament decided unanimously to seek the permanent removal of its 20 B61s and every political party has made the same promise.
The U.S. Dept. of Energy is trying to discover the cause of a radiation leak that contaminated at least 13 employees of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Loving, N. Mex. The Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center (CEMRC) has offered free radiation testing for residents who live within 100 miles of the site. The incidents are the most serious ever at WIPP, the nation’s only deep geological repository for nuclear waste.
DRUG USAGE AT NUCLEAR FACILITIES
At least 10 nuclear missile launch control officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana are being investigated for drug use and 92 Air Force officers have been suspended. In May 2013 the Air Force removed 17 Minuteman III IM launch control officers at its air force base in Minot, North Dakota. Details of these illegal transgressions have been carried by the mainstream corporate media.
THE LIFE OF URANIUM DEBRIS
New research from the United Kingdom has found that radioactive particles left from the military’s use of armor-piercing depleted uranium (DU) shells, made mostly of uranium-238 can persist in the environment for 30 years and the short-term studies cannot accurately predict the rate at which the “penetrators” corrode. This finding fits with the results of a study around a former factory in Colonic, New York where DU particles produced between the l960s and l980s were still intact and present in the environment.
US MILITARY RADIOACTIVE WASTES
Between l940 and 1960 the U.S. spent approximately $5.98 trillion on nuclear sites in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the Marshall Islands, Johnson Atoll and Christmas Island in the Pacific – some of the most contaminated spots in the world. Attempts to clean up these areas are the most costly, complex and risky every undertaken.
FROM THE CATHOLIC WORKER
Here in Fukushima City, which is about thirty-five miles from the power plants, a massive decontamination project is underway. A crew of four to six workers comes to each home, sets up scaffolding around the house and washes down the house using very high-pressure water. Trees, shrubs and fences get the same treatment. Finally five or six inches of topsoil in the yard are removed and replaced with fresh soil. The plan is to replant the grass in the yard in early spring, but now we have a yard of mud. The topsoil and grass are put in large plastic bags and buried very deeply in the yard where there is room. And where there is no room to bring in a backhoe to dig the pit, the soil and grass are carted away and buried in empty fields in the area.
A fitting close for this article can be found in the last paragraphs of a page 5 Nukewatch editorial
, entitled “Bombing Food Stamps, Feeding Bombs”, which describes the reduction of the food stamp program which will hurt 8,500,000 US households at the same time as billions of dollars of armaments are added to the defense budget.
: As Terry Munson of the Baltimore Sun
puts it: “if we used some of that money to feed hungry children and educate those who need it most . . . Congressional reps might be compelled to find support among real voters and not just corporations seeking government handouts.”
Polly Mann is a co-founder of Women Against Military Madness.