Nuke plant

A Nuclear Nightmare Bill 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has introduced S.4064 - International Nuclear Energy Act of 2022. Designed to spread American nuclear technology internationally and end prohibition on foreign ownership of nuclear in the US, Manchin’s bill would: 

  • Create fast-track procedures for deemed civil nuclear exports for countries defined by the Secretary of Energy. 
  • Expand the Export-Import Bank program on Transformational Exports to include civil nuclear facilities and related goods. 
  • Create the U.S. Nuclear Fuels Security Initiative to reduce and eventually eliminate reliance on Chinese and Russian nuclear fuels. 

The proposed legislation – like the campaign to keep Diablo Canyon, California’s last nuke standing - is part of a current concerted push to resuscitate a moribund industry that should be allowed to die before it kills us.

A Mounting Pyramid of Catastrophes 

If Wikipedia is to be believed, “Globally, there have been at least 99 (civilian and military) recorded nuclear power plant accidents from 1952 to 2009…. At least 57 accidents and severe incidents have occurred since the Chernobyl disaster, and over 56 severe incidents have occurred in the USA.” 

The seven-level International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) was introduced in 1990 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). [An official disaster minimization scale?]

Level 5, 6 and 7 disasters – those with more than “Local Consequences” – tend to occur every 5-10 years.  

Fukushima happened in 2011.

We’re overdue for the next biggie. How really bad is “Major?” 

The Past is Prologue 

Here’s a brief historical timeline of unheeded wake up calls. [Main source] 

Kyshtym, Russia 1957 – Level 6 

Windscale Fire (Sellafield), UK 1957 – Level 5 

Santa Susanna – 1959 - a partial meltdown occurred at the Boeing-Rocketdyne nuclear testing facility, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Experts rate it as worse than Three Mile Island’s Level 5. The incident released the third greatest amount of radioactive iodine in nuclear history. 

Experimental Power Station, Idaho USA 1961 – Level 4 

Saint- Laurent, France 1969 – Level 4 

Three Mile Island Accident, Pennsylvania USA 1979 – Level 5 

Buenos Aires, Argentina 1983 – Level 4 

Chernobyl, Ukraine 1986 - Level 7 

Goiania Accident, Brazil 1987 – Level 5 

Tokaimura, Japan 1999 - Level 4  

Fukushima, Japan 2011 - Level 7 

Nuclear Denialism - The Legacy of the Nuclear Age So Far 

Add in the global pollution from 2 decades of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the last century and its clear the planetary gene pool and ecosystem will never be the same.  

Consistent low-balling of costs, environmental and human health impacts and the recurring denialist claim that, “relatively few accidents have involved fatalities,” is demolished by the actual in-depth and long-term data.

A leading example is the book, ChernobylConsequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environmentby Alexey Yaablokov, V. Nesterenko and A. Nesterenko, published in 2009 by the New York Academy of Sciences. Lead author Yablokov had been State Councilor for Environment and Health and a member of the Russian Academy of Science. 

As the late, great, biostatistician and nuclear impacts researcher Rosalie Bertell reported at the time,

The authors abstracted data from more than 5000 published articles and studies, mostly available only in Slavic languages and not available to those outside of the former Soviet Union or Eastern bloc countries. The findings are by those who witnessed first-hand the effects of Chernobyl. This book is in contrast to findings by the World Health Organization (WHO), International Atomic energy Agency (IAEA) and (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) who based their findings on some 300 western research papers, and who found little of concern about the fallout from Chernobyl. 

While the most apparent human and environmental damage occurred, and continues to occur, in the Ukraine, Belarus and European Russia, more than 50 percent of the total radioactivity spread across the entire northern hemisphere, potentially contaminating some 400 million people. 

Based on 5000 articles, by multiple researchers and observers, the authors estimated that by 2004, some 985,000 deaths worldwide had been caused by the disaster, giving lie to estimates by the IAEA and World Health Organization. 

All life systems that were studied – humans, voles, livestock, birds, fish, plants, mushrooms, bacteria, viruses, etc., with few exceptions, were changed by radioactive fallout, many irreversibly. Increased cancer incidence is not the only observed adverse effect from the Chernobyl fallout – noted also are birth defects, pregnancy losses, accelerated aging, brain damage, heart, endocrine, kidney, gastrointestinal and lung diseases, and cataracts among the young. Children have been most seriously affected – before the radioactive Chernobyl releases, 80% of children were deemed healthy, now in some areas, only 20% of children are considered healthy. Many have poor development, learning disabilities, and endocrine abnormalities. 

The government of the former Soviet Union previously classified many documents now accessible to the authors.

Dubious Sources 

For their fallacious factoids, denialists cite nuclear tech data from the very international agencies charged with promoting the nuclear industry: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation ( UNSCEAR.)

These agencies have colluded in covering up the real horrors of the DNA altering damage from the multiple nuclear catastrophes over the years. In fact, they have an Agreement, W.H.O./IAEA (Res. WHA 12.40, of 28 May 1959) that states the W.H.O. will defer to the interests of the IAEA before investigating, publishing or taking action on anything to do with nuclear. Therefore the WHO is not independent from the IAEA in the field of research and publications.

And because the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is “an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy,” it prohibited true collection and distribution of accurate information about any of the major nuclear disasters. UNSCEAR is part of the efforts to support the nuclear lobby narrative. 

The Denialist Pattern 

Attempted cover-ups are historically standard procedure. From the beginning, the policy of the U.S. was to block those who attempted to record accurate information immediately after the Japanese bombings. That policy pattern continued for the brave individuals who painstakingly gathered tissue samples and recorded the devastating health damage soon after Chernobyl such as Dr. Bandazhevsky, who had his samples and records destroyed and was also imprisoned by the Belarussian government.

Fortunately we have the work of Dr. Timothy Mousseau, Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina who has recorded years of samples of DNA damage of insects, birds and small mammals in both Chernobyl and Fukushima.  

MIT Professor Kate Brown meticulously documented the effects of Chernobyl in her award-winning book, “Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future.” Their research corroborates the thousands of Slavic studies and on the ground reports synthesized by Yablokov, et al. These studies and estimates of deaths (900,000-plus) were completely dismissed also. Efforts by others outside of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine to help relieve the suffering of those affected by the Chernobyl disaster were actively blocked by the IAEA

Details of the horrendous effects of the ongoing triple meltdowns at Fukushima are covered up. Suffering Japanese residents are ignored and their illness claims disputed. The U.S. sailors who were exposed to the heaviest part of the immediate release of Fukushima radioactivity while offshore working to help with rescue efforts after the earthquake and tsunami were totally silenced and denied legal recognition and health assistance, though brave efforts were made by their legal team. Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi traveled to the US to speak out and support the US sailors' lawsuit against TEPCO and was moved to tears at the situation. The lawsuits were finally rejected by a U.S. court. 

TEPCO intends to dump millions of gallons of highly irradiated water from Fukushima into the Pacific, affecting all life in and around this ocean. Yet because of the political/media cover-up, people are unaware that the triple meltdowns are still occurring and producing at least 300 tons of highly radioactive wastewater daily. 

These are just some of the cover-ups conveniently ignored by denialist pollyannas. 

Then There’s the Stranded Waste Perplex 

Thousands of deadly metric tons of radioactive “spent fuel” power plant waste with nowhere to go now sit on nuclear power reactor sites, some of them shutdown and in decommissioning, others still in operation and producing more tons of waste each year.  

Approximately 86,000 metric tons are being stored on 54 commercial sites in 28 states. More deadly waste from weapons production is piling up in more states. 

The waste will remain lethal to all living things millions of years, yet it is now stored in flimsy thin-walled metal containers that will last for less than 20 years. Each storage site is a ticking time bomb and a target for terrorist attack. 

Still, nuclear pollyannas press on, advocating for ‘advanced nuclear technology’ and small nuclear reactors (SMRs).  

So desperate are the nuclear pollys in pleading their case that they have now stopped denying the fact of mutually dependent connections between nuclear power and weapons.  

They’ve switched from decades of denying any connection to arguing that the commercial nuclear power industry must be kept alive because it supplies the infrastructure and trained labor pool on which the nuclear weapons industry depends. A long-denied truth which is why the expensive, dirty, uninsurable private nuclear power industry was spawned in the first place, marketed as “Atoms for Peace.” 

How big a disaster will it take to snap the New Nukes Numbskulls out of their trance? 


Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle Co-Direct EON – The Ecological Options Network, a 501(c) (3) organization. The EON feature documentary The San Onofre Syndrome: Nuclear Power’s Legacy – a decade in the making – will be released later this year.