Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Japan’s Meltdowns Demand New No-Nukes Thinking
By Amy Goodman
New details are emerging that indicate the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan is far worse than previously known, with three of the four affected reactors experiencing full meltdowns. Meanwhile, in the U.S., massive flooding along the Missouri River has put Nebraska’s two nuclear plants, both near Omaha, on alert. The Cooper Nuclear Station declared a low-level emergency and will have to close down if the river rises another 3 inches. The Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant has been shut down since April 9, in part due to flooding. At Prairie Island, Minn., extreme heat caused the nuclear plant’s two emergency diesel generators to fail. Emergency-generator failure was one of the key problems that led to the meltdowns at Fukushima.
In May, in reaction to the Fukushima disaster, Nikolaus Berlakovich, Austria’s federal minister of agriculture, forestry, environment and water management, convened a meeting of Europe’s 11 nuclear-free countries. Those gathered resolved to push for a nuclear-free Europe, even as Germany announced it will phase out nuclear power in 10 years and push ahead on renewable-energy research. Then, in last week’s national elections in Italy, more than 90 percent of voters resoundingly rejected Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s plans to restart the country’s nuclear power program.
Leaders of national nuclear-energy programs are gathering this week in Vienna for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety. The meeting was called in response to Fukushima. Ironically, the ministers, including U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczko, held their meeting safely in a country with no nuclear power plants. Austria is at the forefront of Europe’s new anti-nuclear alliance.
The IAEA meeting was preceded by the release of an Associated Press report stating that consistently, and for decades, U.S. nuclear regulators lowered the bar on safety regulations in order to allow operators to keep the nuclear plants running. Nuclear power plants were constructed in the U.S. in the decades leading up to the Three Mile Island disaster in 1979. These 104 plants are all getting on in years. The original licenses were granted for 40 years.
The AP’s Jeff Donn wrote, “When the first ones were being built in the 1960s and 1970s, it was expected that they would be replaced with improved models long before those licenses expired.” Enormous upfront construction costs, safety concerns and the problem of storing radioactive nuclear waste for thousands of years drove away private investors. Instead of developing and building new nuclear plants, the owners—typically for-profit companies like Exelon Corp., a major donor to the Obama campaigns through the years—simply try to run the old reactors longer, applying to the NRC for 20-year extensions.
Europe, already ahead of the U.S. in development and deployment of renewable-energy technology, is now poised to accelerate in the field. In the U.S., the NRC has provided preliminary approval of the Southern Company’s planned expansion of the Vogtle power plant in Georgia, which would allow the first construction of new nuclear power plants in the U.S. since Three Mile Island. The project got a boost from President Barack Obama, who pledged an $8.3 billion federal loan guarantee. Southern plans on using Westinghouse’s new AP1000 reactor. But a coalition of environmental groups has filed to block the permit, noting that the new reactor design is inherently unsafe.
Obama established what he called his Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. One of its 15 members is John Rowe, the chairman and chief executive officer of Exelon Corp. (the same nuclear-energy company that has lavished campaign contributions on Obama). The commission made a fact-finding trip to Japan to see how that country was thriving with nuclear power—one month before the Fukushima disaster. In May, the commission reiterated its position, which is Obama’s position, that nuclear ought to be part of the U.S. energy mix.
The U.S. energy mix, instead, should include a national jobs program to make existing buildings energy efficient, and to install solar and wind-power technology where appropriate. These jobs could not be outsourced and would immediately reduce our energy use and, thus, our reliance on foreign oil and domestic coal and nuclear. Such a program could favor U.S. manufacturers, to keep the money in the U.S. economy. That would be a simple, effective and sane reaction to Fukushima.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 900 stations in North America. She is the author of “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.
© 2011 Amy Goodman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate
“WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US”
he wasn't speaking of nuclear power plants constructed in flood plains, on fault lines, areas threatened by wildfires or tsunamis, but our willingness to believe Nuclear Industry assurances that those plants could somehow be made safe continues to unravel and provides an interesting parallel.
Los Alamos, New Mexico:
Firefighters beat back flames on nuclear lab property
By Zelie Pollon
SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) - A raging wildfire in Los Alamos on Monday briefly entered the property of the nation's preeminent nuclear facility, Los Alamos National Laboratory, a vast complex that houses research laboratories and a plutonium facility.
Thousands flee as fire nears town, Los Alamos nuke lab
Mandatory evacuations ordered; first atomic bomb was built at complex
NBC, msnbc.com and news services
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. — Thousands of residents calmly fled Monday from the mesa-top town that's home to the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory, ahead of an approaching wildfire that sent up towering plumes of smoke, rained down ash and sparked a spot fire on lab property where scientists 50 years ago conducted underground tests of radioactive explosives.
From Nuclear Power Industry News
Emergency Status Unchanged as Secondary Flood Berm Collapses at Neb. Nuclear Plant
Nuclear Street News Team
A water-filled berm at the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant deflated Sunday, the Omaha Public Power District reported. Apparently punctured by heavy equipment operating nearby, the berm was among several barriers protecting plant buildings from extreme flood conditions on the adjacent Missouri River.
"This was an additional, a secondary, level of protection that we had put up," OPPD spokesman Mike Jones told CNN. "The plant remains protected to the level it would have been if the aqua berm had not been added."
The plant remained under an unusual event declaration, the lowest of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's four-tiered emergency classification system. The plant's 500-megawatt Combustion Engineering pressurized water reactor has been out of operation since refueling in April. Downstream, the power district's Cooper nuclear plant also remains under an usual event declaration and is still operating.
River levels at Fort Calhoun recently stood at 1,006 feet above sea level and are not expected to exceed 1,008 feet above sea level – six feet below the maximum flood level anticipated in the plant's design. A number of flood control measures have been taken at both plants, including sandbag barriers and extra diesel shipments for emergency generators.
Added flood protection at Nebraska nuclear plant fails
Officials remain confident plant can sustain flood's onslaught
By Lynda Waddington
A concerning situation near Omaha, Neb. took a new twist early Sunday when a temporary levee protecting the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station failed, forcing the facility to turn briefly to emergency generated power.
Two Nebraska nuclear stations — Cooper near Brownville and Calhoun near Blair (19 miles north of Omaha) — are coping with ongoing Missouri River flooding. Although Cooper was built above the flood plain, Calhoun was not. As a result, Cooper continues to operate, while Calhoun, which shut down for refueling in April, remains offline.
“Some mechanical equipment tore the side of the dam,” Victor Dricks, Region 4 spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told The Iowa Independent Monday by phone. “As a result, the plant switched to emergency power for a period of a about 12 hours.”
NRC inspectors were onsite when the incident occurred, and flood waters rushed auxiliary and other buildings at the site. The power supply was cut because water infiltrated the plant’s main electrical transformers. Power has since been switched away from emergency generators and to an off-site power supply.
Keeping power at the plant is critical since the reactor core has been refueled and spent fuel remains in a cooling pool. Dricks said the failure of the dam did not adversely impact either the core or the cooling pool. Dry cask storage of spent fuel has long been exposed to the flood waters and, as Dricks told The Iowa Independent last week, poses no risk.
Nebraska Residents in No Danger After Floods Hit Nuke Plant: Waters Breach Berm at Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station
15 Fukushima residents’ urine contaminated with radiation
Tokyo: Over three millisieverts of radiation has been measured in the urine of 15 residents living near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, especially in the village of Litate and the town of Kawamata.
Both the places are about 30 to 40 kilometres away from the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, which has been releasing radioactive material into the environment after being severely hit by the March 11 earthquake-cum-tsunami.
Nanao Kamada, professor emeritus of radiation biology at Hiroshima University, said that people need to stop eating contaminated vegetables or other products to avoid being affected by it.
"But it will be difficult for people to continue living in these areas," The Japanese Times quoted him, as saying.
Kamada teamed up with doctors, including few belonging to Watari Hospital in the city of Fukushima, to conduct two rounds of tests on each resident in early and late May by taking urine samples from 15 people between 4 and 77.
Radioactive cesium was found both times in each resident.
Fukushima starts internal radiation checks
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Fukushima Prefecture began checking the internal radiation dose levels of selected residents Monday, the first step in its plan to examine the health of all its 2 million residents amid the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Friday, June 24, 2011
New Exposé Reveals Nuclear Regulatory Commission Colluded with Industry to Weaken Safety Standards
Three U.S. senators have called for a congressional probe on safety issues at the nation’s aging nuclear plants following a pair of new exposés. In a special series called “Aging Nukes,” the Associated Press revealed that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the nuclear power industry have been working in tandem to weaken safety standards to keep aging reactors within the rules. Just last year, the NRC weakened the safety margin for acceptable radiation damage to reactor vessels. The AP report also revealed radioactive tritium has leaked from 48 of the 65 U.S. commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping. Leaks from at least 37 of those facilities contained concentrations exceeding the federal drinking water standard—sometimes at hundreds of times the limit. We speak with AP investigative journalist Jeff Donn.
Spinning Spilled ‘Hot Coffee’ To Take Away The Right To Sue?
Here & Now Guest:
Susan Saladoff, director-producer of “Hot Coffee“
When 79-year-old Stella Liebeck spilled a cup of McDonald’s coffee in her lap in February of 1992, her injuries and resulting lawsuit against McDonald’s ignited a firestorm of criticism and satire when the jury awarded her $2.7 million.
Liebeck’s case was portrayed as a case of a jackpot jury, or the justice system run amok.
However, as first-time filmmaker and attorney Susan Saladoff portrays in a new documentary film “Hot Coffee,” airing on HBO, not only were Liebeck’s injuries severe, but her case was used by business interests to rally support for “tort reform,” which masked a campaign to limit the average person’s right to sue, both at the federal and state levels.
Is Justice Being Served?
Seinfeld mocked it. Letterman ranked it in his top ten list. And more than fifteen years later, its infamy continues. Everyone knows the McDonald’s coffee case. It has been routinely cited as an example of how citizens have taken advantage of America’s legal system, but is that a fair rendition of the facts? Hot Coffee reveals what really happened to Stella Liebeck, the Albuquerque woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonald’s, while exploring how and why the case garnered so much media attention, who funded the effort and to what end. After seeing this film, you will decide who really profited from spilling hot coffee.
McDonald's served coffee too hot to drink and hot enough to cause third degree burns in spite of 700 complaints.
This case was catapulted by people like Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich to allow Big Corporations to escape culpability.
Amazing what we willingly believe.
As safety worries grow for existing U.S. nuclear fleet, proposed new reactor design faces mounting problems
A yearlong Associated Press investigation has found that federal regulators have kept aging U.S. nuclear reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards or failing to enforce them.
Coming as Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant is thought to be experiencing a worst-case "melt-through" scenario, the AP's revelation further amplifies concerns about the safety of the existing U.S. nuclear fleet.
But at the same time, the nuclear industry's plan to build a new type of reactor is also raising serious safety concerns.
The AP investigation into nuclear power plant safety appeared in media outlets nationwide this week and documented a cozy relationship between the commercial nuclear power industry and regulators at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. As the AP reported:
Records show a recurring pattern: Reactor parts or systems fall out of compliance with the rules. Studies are conducted by the industry and government, and all agree that existing standards are "unnecessarily conservative."
Regulations are loosened, and the reactors are back in compliance.
The commercial reactors now operating across the U.S. were built in the 1960s and 1970s, and were designed and licensed to generate power for 40 years. But 66 of the 104 operating reactors have been re-licensed for 20 additional years, with renewal applications under review for another 16 units.
These aging reactors are beginning to experience problems due to wear and tear: reactor vessels gone brittle, leaky valves, cracked tubing, corroded piping. The second installment of the AP investigation found that corroded piping had led to radioactive tritium leaks at three-quarters of U.S. nuclear power plants.
Such is the case of nuclear energy. We can't see it or touch it and it's too far away to care.
Much as with Dirty Coal, Uranium Mining leaves behind environmental destruction that Big Corporations escaped cleaning up.
When believers promote Nuclear Energy as a solution for failed energy policies, let's also include a discussion about cleanup costs.
We already know that Nuclear Energy is too expensive to be cost competitive without taxpayer subsidies and loan guarantees. Must we pay for the cleanup as well?
Nuclear Power's Other Tragedy
Nuclear Power's Other Tragedy: Stories From the Frontlines of Uranium Mining [excerpts]
Report Documents Lax Standards, Safety Violations, Inadequate Cleanup
WASHINGTON, June 23 – The past and future of uranium mining threaten communities across America, which an antiquated federal law fails to protect from the hazards of abandoned mines, toxic waste dumps and contaminated water, according to a new report from Earthworks.
The recent decision by the Obama administration to advocate for the withdrawal from mining of one million acres around the Grand Canyon demonstrates the serious threat that uranium mining poses to water resources.
The 1872 Mining Law does not even require uranium miners – unlike all other extractive industries such as coal, oil and natural gas – to pay royalties to taxpayers that could be used to clean up radioactive contaminated sites, says the report, Nuclear Power’s Other Tragedy: Communities Living with Uranium Mining.
“It is long past time that regulation of uranium mining is brought into the 21st Century,” said Lauren Pagel, policy director of Earthworks, an international mining reform organization. “This outdated federal statute allows uranium mining companies, who are often foreign multinationals, to take minerals from public lands for free while polluting our country’s irreplaceable natural resources.”
The report pulls together alarming data on the lax standards and high number of safety violations at all active uranium mines and cleanup sites in the United States. Some of the more startling examples:
•At the Willow Creek mine and mill sites in central Wyoming, there were 260 reported spills of radioactive water from 1987 to 2004.
•Groundwater near the shuttered Schwartzwalder Mine near Denver is contaminated with uranium at levels 1,000 times higher than human health standards.
•In Texas, where the state rather than the federal government regulates uranium mining, mine operators are routinely allowed to promise to clean up groundwater to a certain level when applying for mining permits, but then lower the level of required cleanup after mining ends.
But the report also tells the stories behind the numbers, with case studies of Native and Anglo-American communities that are struggling with uranium mining’s legacy and concerned for the future. The report spotlights people working to help those affected by uranium mining’s legacy, and to prevent future tragedies. They include:
•Nadine Padilla, a Navajo-Pueblo activist who is fighting to keep Mount Taylor, N.M., a sacred site, safe from uranium mining while helping the victims of earlier mining. “It is our duty,” Padilla says, “to protect Mt. Taylor and other sacred places to maintain our balance in the world.”
• Deb Abrahamson of the Spokane tribe in Washington state, who is working to secure federal compensation for former workers at the Midnite Mine. “We no longer gather roots and berries from the area around the mine because of concerns about poisons,” she says. “People are afraid to eat, afraid to harvest.”
•Wilma Tope of Converse County, Wyo., who organized her neighbors to protect drinking and agricultural water around the nation’s largest active uranium mine. Says Tope: “If you don’t have good water, you have nothing.”
The report calls for removing uranium from the jurisdiction of the antiquated 1872 Mining Law which allows mining companies to extract uranium from public lands without paying royalties.
The Uranium Resources Stewardship Act, introduced by Reps. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, would institute royalties, a competitive leasing program, and give federal land managers more say over whether mining should be allowed in sensitive areas.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Japanese nuclear plant halts operation to clean contaminated water because of a rapid rise in radiation
Officials at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant suspended an operation to clean contaminated water hours after it had begun because of a rapid rise in radiation.
Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), which operates the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, is investigating the cause and could not say when the clean-up will resume, company spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said.
Fresh water is being pumped in to cool damaged reactor cores, and is becoming contaminated in the process. Around 105,000 tonnes of highly radioactive water have pooled across the plant, and could overflow within a couple of weeks if action is not taken.
In earlier tests, the water treatment system reduced caesium levels in the water to about one ten-thousandth of their original levels. The system began full operations on Friday after a series of problems involving leaks and valve flaws.
The system was suspended in early Saturday when workers detected a sharp radiation increase in the system's caesium-absorbing component, Matsumoto said. Radioactivity in one of 24 cartridges, which was expected to last for a few weeks, had already reached its limit within five hours, he said.
Japan's 11 March earthquake and tsunami knocked out power to the nuclear plant, incapacitating its crucial cooling systems and causing three reactor cores to melt. Tepco aims to bring the reactors to a stable cold shutdown state by January next year.
The water treatment system is to be eventually connected to a cooling system so the treated water can be reused. But treating the water will create an additional headache – tons of highly radioactive sludge will require a separate long-term storage space.
The Fukushima crisis shattered Japan's confidence in the safety of nuclear energy and prompted anti-nuclear sentiment. But there are also concerns that Japan will face a serious summertime power crunch unless more of its reactors get back on line.
Of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors, more than 30 – including six at Fukushima Daiichi and several others that stopped due to the quake – are out of operation.
The economy and industry minister, Banri Kaieda, said on Saturday that the rest of the nuclear plants in Japan are safe and their reactors should resume operations as soon as their ongoing regular checks are completed. He said nationwide inspections this week have found that Japanese nuclear power plants are now prepared for accidents as severe as the one that crippled Fukushima Daiichi.
Resumption of about a dozen reactors undergoing regular checkups is up in the air amid growing local residents' fear of nuclear accidents. Many of the plants' hometown officials have said restarting any pending reactors would be impossible amid the ongoing crisis.
Kaieda, however, said Japan needs the power. "Stable electric supply is indispensable for Japan's reconstruction from the disaster and its economic recovery," he said in a statement.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency instructed Japanese nuclear operators to improve their preparedness for severe accidents earlier this month and then conducted nationwide on-site inspections.
The inspections focused on measures to reduce the risk of hydrogen explosions inside containment buildings as one of the lessons learned from the Fukushima crisis, the world's worst atomic accident since Chernobyl.
Japanese nuclear plant operators have already taken other steps to improve accident management since the disaster to maintain core cooling capacity during blackouts.
By Daily Mail Reporter
Dangerous radiation has leaked from three-quarters of all U.S. nuclear power stations raising fears the country's water supplies could one day be contaminated.
The number and severity of leaks has increased because of the many old and unsafe plants across America, a new investigation has claimed.
Radioactive tritium has escaped at least 48 of 65 of all U.S. sites, often entering water around the plants through rusty old pipes.
Water tested around 37 of the facilities contained radioactive concentrations exceeding the U.S. drinking water standard and in some cases at hundreds of times over the limit.
One serious case was uncovered at the Braidwood Nuclear Power Station in Illinois, which has leaked more than six million gallons of tritium-laden water in repeated leaks dating back to the 1990s.
Scientists says tritium is not dangerous in small doses but prolonged exposure to high levels is believed to increase the chances of cancer, leukaemia, and mutations in humans.
The leaks have been uncovered by a year-long Associated Press investigation found by trawling the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) records.
Despite the revelations the NRC and industry bosses consider the leaks a public relations problem, not a public health threat.
'The public health and safety impact of this is next to zero,' said Tony Pietrangelo, chief nuclear officer of the industry's Nuclear Energy Institute.
'This is a public confidence issue.'
While most leaks have been found within plant boundaries, some have migrated off site
At three sites — two in Illinois and one in Minnesota — leaks have contaminated drinking wells of nearby homes, official records show, but not at levels violating the drinking water standards.
At a fourth site, in New Jersey, tritium has leaked into an aquifer and a discharge canal feeding picturesque Barnegat Bay off the Atlantic Ocean.
It is claimed regulators and industry have weakened safety standards for decades to keep the nation's commercial nuclear reactors operating within the rules.
Even if there was a major leak, the U.S. Government says The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says seven of 200,000 people who highly contaminated water for decades would develop cancer.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Although it's lengthy, it's well worth reading for those who care about the environment and the future of our planet.
Climate of Denial
Can science and the truth withstand the merchants of poison?
There is enough information that has been posted here about the Koch's funding and influence, their beliefs that are destructive to Democracy and the environment to raise alarms.
EXPOSE THE KOCHS: The Koch brothers fund multiple think tanks and academic centers to promote their ideology and grow their profits, a Brave New Foundation investigation reveals. Let's create an echo chamber of truth by using YouTube's SHARE tools above to protect Social Security and counter the Koch billions. http://KochBrothersExposed.com/socialsecurity
Documents and interviews illustrate a vast cottage industry, comprised of Koch brothers’ spokespeople, front groups, think tanks and elected officials, which have built a self-sustaining echo chamber to transform fringe ideas into popular mainstream public policy arguments.
We're out with a new video today with Senator Bernie Sanders and the Strengthen Social Security Campaign that connects the dots and illustrates how the Koch brothers have moved their self-serving ideas into the mainstream.
The Koch echo chamber works in a myriad of ways, and Social Security is one example of its effects. Watch the video and see how the Koch brothers achieve their policy goals. Then counter the Koch billions by sharing this video and creating an echo chamber of truth.
Together we can build an echo chamber of our own, one that favors truth, integrity and equal protection for everyone, not just the Koch brothers.
and the Brave New Foundation team
Friday, June 17, 2011
In a baffling display of the failure of government to regulate, assurances were offered that the Industry, after all, possessed the expertise to self-govern.
Now, WATER threatens Nebraska Nuclear Power plants - WATER!
This is not an earthquake or a tsunami, but WATER for which these plants were unequipped. What else don't we know?
This is an Industry that Washington, DC has allowed to escape any liability, responsibility or culpability. Is it any wonder the financial markets won't loan to them?
From Food Freedom:
From Fairewinds Associates:
Hot Particles From Japan to Seattle Virtually Undetectable when Inhaled or Swallowed
Midwest Floods: Both Nebraska Nuke Stations Threatened
By Rady Ananda
Tens of millions of acres in the US corn belt have flooded, which will spike the cost of gas and food over the next several months. Worse, several nuclear power plants sit in the flooded plains. Both nuclear plants in Nebraska are partly submerged and the FAA has issued a no-fly order over both of them.
On June 7, the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant filed an Alert with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after a fire broke out in the switchgear room. During the event, “spent fuel pool cooling was lost” when two fuel pumps failed for about 90 minutes.
On June 9, Nebraska’s other plant, Cooper Nuclear Power Station near Brownville, filed a Notice of Unusual Event (NOUE), advising it is unable to discharge sludge into the Missouri River due to flooding, and therefore “overtopped” its sludge pond.
The Fort Calhoun TFR (temporary flight restriction) was issued the day before the nuclear Alert. The FAA issued another TFR on June 7 for the Cooper plant.
Other flood-related TFRs were issued on June 13 for the Garrison Dam in Bismarck, North Dakota and on June 5 for rescue operations in Sioux City, SD.
Under the four-level nuclear event scale used in the US, an NOUE is the least hazardous. In an Alert, however, “events are in process or have occurred that involve an actual or potential substantial degradation in the level of safety of the plant,” according to the NRC.
Despite some media reports, Ft Calhoun is not at a stage 4 level of emergency, which under the US scale, would be “actual or imminent substantial core damage or melting of reactor fuel with the potential for loss of containment integrity.”
If that rumor refers to the seven-level International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, a Level 4 incident requires at least one death, which has not occurred.
Continued flooding does threaten the plants, however. As nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen explains in this video, cooling pumps must operate continuously, even years after a plant is shut down.
One group, the Foundation for Resilient Societies, has proposed solar panels and other high-reliability power sources to supply backup cooling for the fuel pools at nuclear plants.
Thomas Popik told Food Freedom that FRS “invited the Chief Nuclear Officers of nearly every nuclear power utility to comment” on their proposal and only heard back from one operator. Otherwise, not one CNO has officially responded to the NRC-filed proposal.
While hindsight might be 20/20, the lack of foresight can be blindingly deadly when it comes to radioactive waste that lasts tens of thousands of years for the measly prize of 40 years of electricity.
The Ft. Calhoun plant — which stores its fuel rods at ground level according to Tom Burnett — is already partly submerged.
“Ft. Calhoun is the designated spent fuel storage facility for the entire state of Nebraska…and maybe for more than one state. Calhoun stores its spent fuel in ground-level pools which are underwater anyway – but they are open at the top. When the Missouri river pours in there, it’s going to make Fukushima look like an x-ray.”
In 2010, Nebraska stored 840 metric tons of the highly radioactive spent fuel rods, reports the Nuclear Energy Institute. That’s one-tenth of what Illinois stores (8,440 MT), and less than Louisiana (1,210) and Minnesota (1,160). But it’s more than other flood-threatened states like Missouri (650) and Iowa (420).
“But that’s not all,” adds Burnett. “There are a LOT of nuclear plants on both the Missouri and Mississippi and they can all go to hell fast.”
The black triangles in the below image prepared by the Center for Public Integrity show the disclosed locations of nuclear power plants in the US, minus research and military plants. (Red lines indicate both Mississippi and Missouri rivers):
Fort Calhoun is the smallest nuke plant in the nation, with one pressurized water reactor generating less than 500 MW. The NRC relicensed the plant thru 2033, giving it a lifespan of 60 years. Cooper was first commissioned in 1974 and has been relicensed thru 2034, also giving it a 60-year lifespan.
Since June 7, Cooper has been running under “Abnormal Operating Procedures” when river depth topped 38.5 feet (895 feet MSL), flooding the north access road. Sandbags and extra diesel fuel were brought in, reports WOWT.
As of 1:15 pm ET on June 16, the river height of just over 40 feet near Cooper is still 5 feet below the elevation required for a plant shutdown. Near Fort Calhoun, the river is even lower as of 1:15 pm ET on June 16 (under 32 feet).
The Midwest floods will seriously impact food and gas prices over the next year. Angela Tague at Business Gather suspects the lost farmland is behind the price spike to $7.55 a bushel for corn — twice last year’s price. Tague notes that the corn shortage will have far-reaching consequences:
“Corn is a key ingredient in ethanol gasoline, feeds America’s livestock and is found in many food products including soft drinks and cereal. Prices will undoubtedly increase steadily at the grocery store, gas pump and butcher shop throughout the summer as Midwest flooding continues along the Missouri River basin. Not only are farmers losing their homes, land and fields — ultimately their bank accounts will also suffer this season.”
And let’s not forget all that genetically modified seed washing south to contaminate natural fields.
Click here to hear the entire 40-minute podcast of Robert Knight’s 5 o’clock Shadow radio show interviewing Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates.
Click here to hear Gundersen’s testimony before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards on Thursday May 26, 2011.
Rady Ananda specializes in Natural Resources and administers the sites Food Freedom and COTO Report.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Is U.S. Attack on Libya Legal? Rep. Dennis Kucinich Debates Former Reagan Attorney Robert Turner
On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 10 members of Congress sued President Obama for violating the War Powers Act of 1973 by failing to obtain congressional approval for military operations in Libya longer than 60 days. We host a debate between Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, one of the Congress members suing President Obama, and Robert Turner, who worked as an attorney in the Reagan White House and is a longtime critic of the War Powers Act. "President Obama’s position is absolutely clear: we are not engaged in war in Libya, and thus, if the War Powers Resolution were constitutional, it still would not apply," Turner says. "I ask you, if another country sent 2,000 planes over the United States, and some of those missions dropped bombs on us, would that be an act of war against the United States?" says Kucinich. "That’s exactly what we’ve done in Libya."
The billion dollar war? Libyan campaign breaks Pentagon estimates costing U.S. taxpayers $2 million a day
The cost of the U.S. campaign in Libya is set to exceed the $750 million Pentagon estimate set out in March, according to a leaked Department of Defence Memo.
The 'eyes-only' DoD dossier said the U.S. had already spent $664 million in Libya by mid-May - a running cost of $60 million a month since the bombing began in March.
At the current rate of spending, the U.S. will have to shell out at least an extra $274 million till the end of the current 90 day no fly zone extension period - brining total expenditure to a minimum of $938 million.
Libya rebels to receive huge cash infusion
By Joby Warrick
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Western and Middle Eastern countries began opening the aid spigots Thursday for Libya’s beleaguered rebels, approving measures that will immediately send at least $1 billion to the opposition and promising much larger sums in the weeks ahead.
Goldman Sachs’ dealings with Libya under scrutiny
By Dawn Lim, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and several other firms are being examined by U.S. regulators to see if they violated bribery laws when dealing with Libya’s sovereign-wealth fund, according a published report Thursday.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into the firms’ relationships with the Libyan Investment Authority, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The fund, controlled by Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi, attracted banks and securities firms when it launched in 2007 with $40 billion, the Journal reported.
Instead of fighting resource wars to defend the interests of Energy Companies on the pretext of "Democracy," what if those funds had been invested in a sensible Alternative Energy policy?
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The most powerful climate video you’ll see all week
Bill McKibben published a must-read op-ed in The Washington Post last month about the connection between climate change and recent extreme weather events. Now Stephen Thomson has combined McKibben's words with striking footage of the events he writes about. The result is a chilling must-see video:
by Sarah Goodyear
Actor Mark Ruffalo, who lives in a rural New York town on the Delaware River with his family, is not one of those celebrities who parachutes into a random political cause and starts ignorantly pontificating about solutions. He has been actively involved with efforts to keep potentially disastrous hydrofracking practices out of New York State for three years, and he knows his stuff. He’s even co-founded his own initiative on water quality, Water Defense.
Now Ruffalo has banded together with some other famous friends, including Ethan Hawke and Zoe Saldana, to make a new video, “I Love My New York Water,” that he hopes will encourage people to get involved in the battle to keep New York’s water safe from the effects of hydrofracking. Fracking, in case you don’t know, is a controversial natural gas extraction process that has the potential to cause severe environmental damage (remember the flaming faucets in Gasland?). “It is a new technology, ” Ruffalo told me. “The industry is using us as guinea pigs. The more we learn about it, the uglier it looks.”
On June 6, the New York State Legislature voted to extend a moratorium on the practice. Now the question goes to the New York State Senate and potentially Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And, Ruffalo told me on the phone, the citizens of New York need to let their elected officials know how they feel.
“It’s a good time to remind Gov. Cuomo that New Yorkers are awake and do care about their water,” Ruffalo said.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the governor might need to hear that message at top volume. From Kate Sinding’s NRDC blog:
This new video comes at a critical time here. There is new evidence that Governor Cuomo is dangerously rushing forward to allow new fracking in New York before allowing sufficient time for officials to undertake a full environmental assessment of its risks. And the state legislative session is drawing to a close with important unfinished fracking-related business.
In an apparent effort to appease the gas industry, Governor Cuomo sent a memo to his Department of Environmental Conservation at the end of May, directing them to deliver their environmental review of fracking in the state no later than July 1st. While the governor’s memo also contains some distinctly positive aspects – including a directive that DEC evaluate a recent major blowout of a Chesapeake Energy well next-door in Bradford County, PA, and other fracking-related accidents in Pennsylvania and elsewhere – its evident intention to rush the state’s crucial, potentially groundbreaking review of the environmental and health impacts of proposed new gas development is extremely troubling. DEC Commissioner Joe Martens has been clear that he is taking his charge to fully assess the risks very seriously, and he and his staff deserve all the time and resources necessary to do that job right.
Holding DEC to an arbitrary—and unnecessarily tight—deadline doesn’t do anyone any favors, and enhances the chances that the state will not sufficiently protect its residents from the dangers associated with fracking. (This does not even provide nearly enough time to address the multiple fatal deficiencies in an initial review that was thrown out last year because it was so woefully inadequate.)
Ruffalo told me that fracking proponents are holding up a false model of economic growth to gain support for an energy extraction process with many dangers—both known and unknown.
“A very small percentage of the population stands to make a lot of money,” he said. “They’re selling this by saying that it’s going to bring a huge influx of jobs. But a Cornell study showed that it kills diversification in the workplace and leaves places worse than they were before. Lots of workers come in from out of state. The businesses that profit are chain hotels, gas stations, prostitution, drug dealing, and bars. And that does not make a community. That does not make an economy.”
The rural communities where the fracking would happen are not the only ones at risk. So is the water supply of the entire New York metropolitan area. “Water goes downhill, and pretty much anything it comes into contact with it picks up,” said Ruffalo. “New York City happens to sit at the bottom of the hill. You don’t have a massive filtration system. You should be very afraid, because these people cannot be trusted.”
He knows that the fact that he’s famous might help to get the message out (the fact that he’s also smokin’ hot doesn’t hurt).
“It’s the fortunate and unfortunate thing that my voice travels a little farther,” he said. “I’d rather be with my wife and my family and doing what I love, which is acting. But if I’m a man of conscience, I have to do what I can do.”
BY MITSURU OBE
TOKYO—Excessive levels of highly toxic strontium have been detected in seawater and groundwater at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, the plant operator said Monday, a development that suggests an increased risk of radioactive contamination further entering the food chain.
Also underscoring the difficulties of trying to stabilize the stricken facility, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said six more workers have received more than the permitted annual emergency levels of radiation exposure.
The Strontium-89 and Strontium-90 isotopes are believed to have been released from the damaged reactors when the fuel cores overheated and melted after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, ...
High level of strontium found at Fukushima plant
Radioactive strontium up to 240 times the legal concentration limit has been detected in seawater samples collected near an intake at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday.
The utility said the substance was also found in groundwater near the plant's Nos. 1 and 2 reactors. The government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said it is the first time that the substance has been found in groundwater.
The agency said it is necessary to carefully monitor the possible effects of the strontium on fishery products near the plant.
Strontium tends to accumulate in bones and is believed to cause bone cancer and leukemia.
Meanwhile, Tepco on Sunday completed preparations to begin testing a newly installed radioactive water treatment system at the Fukushima plant soon, after it finished fixing an adsorption device designed to remove radioactive substances, company officials said.
The utility is expected to begin testing the system, intended to decontaminate highly radioactive water that is accumulating at the site and hampering work to restore the damaged plant, as early as Monday. The company is a couple of days behind the schedule to put the system into full operation, initially planned for June 15, it said.
The utility's preparations to begin testing the system hit a snag Sunday as the amount of water run through the adsorption device was lower than planned, indicating the possibility that piping or other parts may be clogged. The planned level of water recovered later, it said.
The utility is investigating the cause of the snag, the officials said.
Tepco initially planned to begin testing the radioactive water treatment system last Friday but postponed it because water leaks were found in the equipment that day.
The utility said that even if the start of the system's operation is delayed, it does not mean that leaks of contaminated water into the environment would occur "immediately."
The operation of the system is seen as crucial to containing the three-month-old nuclear crisis, as the decontaminated water is expected to eventually be recycled as a coolant for the reactors, which lost their cooling functions as a result of the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
Water has been injected into some of the reactors to keep the nuclear fuel cool, but vast pools of water containing large amounts of radioactive substances have been found on the plant's premises as a side effect of the water-injection measure.
The system, set up at a facility where the highly radioactive water from the Nos. 2 and 3 units has been transferred, is expected to be able to treat about 1,200 tons per day, reducing the concentration of radioactive substances to around one-thousandth to one-ten thousandth.
By Ben Geman
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday that it’s time to consider international intervention in Syria to avoid the further “slaughter” of people there by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
When Koch Attacks, Gas Prices Edition
By Josh Dorner
Oil-Funded Group: Leave Oil Companies Alone!
The billionaire Koch Brothers; their giant oil conglomerate, Koch Industries; and their vast network of right-wing political groups, think tanks, and other organizations are rarely out of the news these days, but the oil profit-fueled, multi-pronged assault on clean energy that Koch groups launched this week is particularly notable — and worrisome. Here’s what you need to know about the latest Koch-fueled attack on clean energy and President Obama, which is, at its core, an effort to make the American people forget that oil companies like Koch Industries are responsible for and benefit from today’s high gas prices and our reliance on dirty energy.
WHO: Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Koch Industries, oil-funded front group with state chapters in at least 32 states. The group, bankrolled in part directly by the Koch Brothers, spent $45 million in last year’s elections, and is positioning itself to be a force in 2012.
WHAT: AFP is involved in at least five major campaigns against clean energy right now:
The Please Don’t Blame Oil Companies for High Gas Prices Campaign : This week, AFP announced it was launching a “Running on Empty” tour to try to falsely blame President Obama for high gas prices. The tour will travel to Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The tour is, of course, funded in part by the profits Koch Industries is making as a result of today’s high oil prices.
In reality, polls show that nine of out 10 Americans blame Wall Street speculators and Big Oil’s greed for the high prices. Even Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil agree that speculation is to blame for today’s high oil prices.
Unlikely to be mentioned on the tour? How the Kochs built an oil speculation empire that is partially responsible for driving up oil prices right now.
Attacking the Clean Air Act:Various Koch groups, but especially AFP, are attempting to gut the Clean Air Act in order to prevent the EPA from using it regulatory powers to protect public health from the dangers caused by global warming pollution.
Attacking Regional Cap-and-Trade Programs: AFP has launched an all-out assault on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Northeast’s successful regional cap-and-trade system. Having already persuaded New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to bail on RGGI, AFP is staging a major protest today featuring 2012 contender Herman Cain outside the RGGI headquarters in New York City. AFP has also been trying (unsuccessfully thus far) to convince other states, including New Hampshire, Maine, and Delaware to leave the climate pact.
Attacking State-Level Renewable Electricity Standards: Politico reports that AFP is considering strategies for killing Renewable Electricity Standards in “some three dozen states,” including Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Attacking Natural Gas Vehicles: While Koch rakes in billions in annual subsidies as a result of oil and ethanol businesses, among others, AFP has launched a campaign against legislation to incentivize the use and production of natural gas vehicles. The campaign’s main attack on the legislation: that it’s a “subsidy.”
WHY: To protect the sizable profits of Koch Industries and its vast array of polluting business, both from regulations and competition from cleaner energy sources. And, most importantly, to pretend that oil companies like Koch Industries have absolutely nothing to do with the pain American consumers are feeling at the pump right now.
Tom Friedman's recent column is available below.
The Peak Oil Crisis: The Gathering Storm
By Tom Whipple
The world is beginning to look a lot like the August of 1914 or perhaps the summer of 1939 all over again. This time instead of the great powers of central Europe dragging the rest of us into a European affair, it seems that nearly every corner of the earth is facing some sort of imminent disaster that could combine into a very unpleasant situation.
In America, where we have been living beyond our means for decades, the time has come to pay the piper. Trillion dollar deficits, rising unemployment, printing of money, $4 gasoline, a weakening dollar and entitlements are combining into a grim outlook for our immediate future. Add to this the toll taken by climate change - unprecedented outbreaks of tornadoes, massive floods, and record droughts - throw in a hurricane or two and we are on the way to serious disruptions.
Politically America is split over what do about all this. Many are simply unwilling to admit that numerous forces are trending towards disaster and keep talking about the return to prosperity. Some favor still more tax cuts until there is little left of government, or increased oil well drilling as the universal balm; some favor Keynesian pump-priming and emissions controls. Still others are totally confused by events that are foreign to the way of life they have known and seek solace in demagogic claims to return the country to growth and prosperity.
The EU too is beset by problems. Although Germany and France seem to have avoided the excesses that are besetting others, most of the EU members, like the U.S., are suffering from living beyond their means. The Union has been bouncing from economic crisis to crisis for months. Regional sources of energy -- coal, oil, and natural gas -- are playing out and the continent will soon be even more dependent on imported energy to keep moving about and the lights on. Germany's and Switzerland's recent decisions to foreswear nuclear power stations only add to the problem.
Despite gloomy prospects for European prosperity, it still looks good to millions from the undeveloped parts of the Eastern Hemisphere who in increasing numbers are risking their lives to make it into the EU where the lights still work. The steadily increasing global population, currently growing by circa 70 million each year, with rising expectations brought about by the communications revolution, is putting an increasing strain on supplies of food, water, and electricity. Shortages of these essentials are becoming increasingly common, and these shortages in turn are leading to increased turmoil and violence. Climate change is taking its toll across the underdeveloped world with droughts and record temperatures being seen across much of the world.
In America, where we have been living beyond our means for decades, the time has come to pay the piper.
For those who can afford air conditioning, the rising temperatures are putting an increasing strain on power stations and the sources of fossil fuel that supply them. Around the world, hydro-power dams are producing well below their rated capacity.
There are some areas of temporary respite. Things in Russia are moving along pretty well with oil production and exports hitting post-Soviet highs and global oil prices are keeping the coffers well filled. There was a little problem with a drought last summer, which took out so much of the crop that Moscow had to stop exporting grain, thereby playing a behind the scenes role in the Egyptian uprising. Moscow is still benefiting from unloading all those peripheral countries that the Czars and the Soviets had taken over a century or so ago.
Still the Russians have their troubles: their oil fields should be going into depletion in the next few years and the remaining separatist groups are still blowing up things in Moscow.
South Asia - Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh - seem to be suffering the most at the minute. Available power supplies are not sufficient to cope with unusually high temperatures and still keep factories and vital infrastructure such as water pumps running. Even India with 1.2 billion people and an economic growth rate almost as impressive as China's is running into trouble as water and coal supplies are running short. It seems inevitable that economies across southern Asia will be going into decline shortly likely coupled with increasing political turmoil.
Asia is still doing well, except in Japan where tales of its nuclear meltdowns seems to grow worse every day. It is increasingly obvious that the tsunami/nuclear events have dealt Japan a considerable economic blow which even in normal times would take many years for recovery. Given the increasing costs of fossil fuels, all of which must be imported, Japan may be on course to becoming a shadow of its former self.
The other economic power houses of Asia - Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore - are relatively small and have for the most part little or no sources of fossil fuel. Eventually high energy costs will lay them low, but in the interim, they may be bright spots in an otherwise dismal global economy.
Now we get to China, which has enjoyed phenomenal economic growth in recent decades and continues to expand at 9 or 10 percent a year. Although the numbers still look good for another year of rapid economic growth, just below the surface are some serious troubles. The aquifers that supply water to 440 million people living in the north China plain are about to run dry. Beijing is rushing to bring water from the Yangtze basin to the north in an effort that has been likened to diverting the Mississippi River to New York and New England.
At the minute parts of China seem to be simultaneously beset by the worst drought in 100 years and the worst floods in 200. When the serious environmental problems are coupled with the current power crisis, a case can be made that the years of rapid growth in China are nearing an end. The concern for the rest of the world is that Beijing with trillions in foreign currency reserves may begin importing food, oil, and minerals in such quantities that there won't be much left for the rest of us.
Tom Whipple is a retired government analyst and has been following the peak oil issue for several years.
“The Earth Is Full”: Tom Friedman on “The Great Disruption”
By Joe Romm
The Earth Is Full
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Three years after we won endangered species protection for the very last 340 belugas of Cook Inlet, Sarah Palin’s successor in Alaska has stepped up his state’s attack on these embattled creatures. He has filed a lawsuit that would strip away the belugas’ life-saving protection.
Over recent years, the genetically unique beluga population in Cook Inlet, Alaska, has plummeted -- from more than 1,300 to the 340 survivors that remain today. They are truly the last of their kind. And their habitat is under siege.
The latest threat comes from the proposed Pebble Mine, which would require a deepwater port in a part of Cook Inlet where the whales feed. The new port would increase shipping traffic, noise, pollution and other industrial activity -- all to service the monumentally destructive mega-mine.
You and I didn’t fight to save these last 340 belugas, only to see them wiped out by the Pebble Mine. That’s why it’s critical that we stave off the state’s outrageous attack on their endangered species status.
Japan Admits 3 Nuclear Meltdowns, More Radiation Leaked into Sea; U.S. Nuclear Waste Poses Deadly Risks
Almost three months after the earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear disaster in Japan, new radiation "hot spots" may require the evacuation of more areas further from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility. Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency recently admitted for the first time that full nuclear meltdowns occurred at three of the plant’s reactors, and more than doubled its estimate for the amount of radiation that leaked from the plant in the first week of the disaster in March. “What they failed to mention is that they discharged an equally large amount into the ocean,” says our guest Robert Alvarez, former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Energy. “As [the radiation] goes up the food chain, it accumulates. By the time it reaches people who consume this food, the levels are higher than they originally were when they entered the environment.” Alvarez also discusses his new report on the vulnerabilities and hazards of stored spent fuel at U.S. reactors in the United States. Then we go to Tokyo to speak with Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of the group Green Action. She says citizens leading their own monitoring efforts are calling for additional evacuations, especially for young children and pregnant women.
ROBERT ALVAREZ [former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Energy, now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies]: Well, my report dealt with the vulnerabilities and hazards of stored spent fuel at U.S. reactors in the United States. The United States shares similar designs, reactor designs, as the Japanese reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi station. And if you watched the accident unfold at the Daiichi station, the explosions basically showed you that the spent fuel pools were exposed to the open sky. We, in the United States, are currently storing on the order of three to four, five times more radioactivity in our pools than in Japan, and that the amount of radioactivity that we are storing in unsafe, vulnerable pools constitutes the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet.
In 2008, my colleagues and I issued a report, an in-depth study, following the 9/11 attacks. We became very concerned about the vulnerability of these pools after those attacks, and we pointed out that if somebody or something were to cause the water to drain, it would lead to a catastrophic radiological fire that could render an area uninhabitable far greater than that created by Chernobyl. Chernobyl created an area that’s currently uninhabitable that’s approximately the size of half of the state of New Jersey.
The fact of the matter is, is that we don’t have a final resting place for these wastes. We’ve been trying to find a disposal site for these wastes for the last 55 years. And the reality is that these wastes are going to continue to accumulate at U.S. sites, and the reactor operators are going to continue to squeeze spent fuel into pools that have nowhere near the level of protection of reactors. I mean, these pools are contained in structures that you would find at car dealerships or big box stores. And, for example, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not require the pools to have backup diesel generators if they lose offsite power. It’s very important to keep the pools cool, and they do pose some very, very serious risks. They are, in my opinion, the most serious vulnerability of nuclear power that we have in the United States.
As Radiation Continues to Leak from Japan Nuke Plant, Owners of Vermont Yankee Plant Sue to Stay Open
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Posted by FREDERICA CADE
Right now Americans are still struggling to find jobs. The purposes of small business grants are to help boost the economy. As the United States tries to work itself though this recovery, the small business owner is essential to a strong economy. Since President Obama took office he has been pushing for tax breaks to help small businesses to create more jobs.
“Entrepreneurs embody the promise of America: the belief that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard and see it through, you can succeed in this country,” Obama said in a statement. “And in fulfilling this promise, entrepreneurs also play a critical role in expanding our economy and creating jobs.” In February 2011 the President proposed $2billion in tax breaks.
“The Small Business Act defines a small business as one that is “independently owned and operated and which is not dominant in its field of operation.” The Act also states that the definition of a small business shall vary from industry to industry.
” Such grants are designed to intentionally leave out large corporations because they already exercise a controlling or major influence on industries” according to businessGrants.org. http://www.businessgrants.org/small_business_grants_vs_minority_business_grants.html
So why in 2010 did Koch Industry received 32 grants in 2010? I wonder did the Koch brothers get these grants as a ‘Thank You’ for all the contributions made to Republicans in the 2010 elections. The Koch Brothers getting grants remind me of rich Politicians like Michele Bachmann whose family gets farm subsidies. But like Bachman there are also a couple of other Republicans in Washington who get farm subsidies.
In 2010 Charles Koch made the top 5 2010 list for Richest American. His brother David Koch made the list as the top 6 Richest America. The Koch brother’s assets add up to $19 Billion.
According to Forbes Koch Industries is the largest Private Company in America. Besides Koch Industries the brothers own many several subsidiaries across the country, they employ at least 80,000 workers in 60 countries. Koch Industries owns many companies and share assets in other companies as well.
Koch industry probably out of any company in the history of this country has used money and power to influence Republican politics. From lobbying to Campaign contribution the Koch brothers are using their power to dictate and get what they want. Koch industry like last year and other years in the past can out right donate tons of money into political campaigns.
Unlike most business who is just struggling to stay a float Koch Industry flourishes. Unlike the American with a great ideal and a dream of owning his business, many are shut out from getting the money to achieve those dreams. I remember when African-American farmers in 2010 won a lawsuit against the US Department of Agriculture for being shut out of a lot of grant programs. We have grants
If you see below, these are the basic requirements for small business grants.
“Small business loans and small business grants may be awarded to companies that meet the size standards that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has established for most industries in the economy. The most common size standards are as follows:
500 employees for most manufacturing and mining industries
100 employees for all wholesale trade industries
$6 million for most retail and service industries
$28.5 million for most general & heavy construction industries
$12 million for all special trade contractors
$0.75 million for most agricultural industries
Note that about one-fourth of industries have a size standard that is different from these levels. They vary from $0.75 million to $28.5 million for size standards based on average annual revenues and from 100 to 1500 employees for size standards based on number of employees.
With few exceptions, all federal agencies, and many state and local governments, use the size standards established by SBA. You can search for further information and for loan opportunities on the Small Business Administration’s website.
Maybe it’s me, but I wouldn’t consider Koch Industry anything near a Small Business Administration.”
SBA’s Surety Bond Guarantee Program
“The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Surety Bond Guarantee Program, with cooperation from the surety industry, assists small construction companies in obtaining required bonds on federal, state, local, and commercial construction projects and on service and supply contracts and subcontracts. Small and emerging contractors grow by increasing contracting opportunities, especially in public sector construction. Many surety bond companies recognize the importance of providing bonds to small, minority, and emerging contractors and have developed programs to assist them.”
How do Billionaires, Top Rich Americans Koch brothers get 32 grants in 2010 totaling over a million dollars that are for small businesses and minorities? And we wonder why the Mom and Pop businesses, those trying to get businesses started, and small businesses that are trying to make improvements and pay their employees suffer, when we got Billionaires asking for a hand-out, and behind close doors are sending massive donations to Republican campaigns, PACs, and lobbying all at the same time.
Full list available on link
By Steve Benen
The Koch Brothers’ attack operation is all class.
The state director of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity offered no apologies today for papering homes in Detroit’s Delray district Monday with fake eviction notices.
Bearing the words “Eviction Notice” in large type, the bogus notices told homeowners their properties could be taken by the Michigan Department of Transportation to make way for the New International Trade Crossing bridge project.
Apparently, if this bridge project goes forward, it’s likely to draw traffic and toll revenue away from a nearly privately-owned bridge. So, Americans for Prosperity is lobbying heavily against the state project, and the Koch-financed group’s campaign now includes fake eviction notices.
AFP said the flyers were intended to get local residents’ attention. To that extent, the stunt worked — it caused panic among many families in struggling communities who thought they were losing their homes.
Atrios asked, “What is wrong with these people?”
I wonder the same thing every day. I’m left with the impression that right-wing attack dogs like those with Americans for Prosperity have no sense of limits and no concept of integrity.
Allies of former prime minister regard darling of Tea Party movement as a frivolous figure unworthy of an audience
Sarah Palin wants to show to the Republican right that she is the true keeper of the Ronald Reagan flame by meeting the late president's closest ally on the world stage.
A meeting with Margaret Thatcher in the centenary year of Reagan's birth would be the perfect way of launching her bid for the Republican nomination for the 2012 US presidential election.
This is what Palin told Christina Lamb in the Sunday Times:
I am going to Sudan in July and hope to stop in England on the way. I am just hoping Mrs Thatcher is well enough to see me as I so admire her.
It appears that the former prime minister has no intention of meeting the darling of the Tea Party movement. Andy McSmith reported in the Independent this morning that Palin is likely to be "thwarted" on the grounds that Thatcher, 86, rarely makes public appearances.
It would appear that the reasons go deeper than Thatcher's frail health. Her allies believe that Palin is a frivolous figure who is unworthy of an audience with the Iron Lady. This is what one ally tells me:
Lady Thatcher will not be seeing Sarah Palin. That would be belittling for Margaret. Sarah Palin is nuts.
Thatcher will show the level she punches at when she attends the unveiling of a statue of Ronald Reagan outside the US embassy in Grosvenor Square on Independence day on 4 July. This is what her ally told me:
Margaret is focusing on Ronald Reagan and will attend the unveiling of the statue. That is her level.
No doubt a rebuff from Thatcher will delight Andrew Sullivan, the creator of The Dish blog, who regards Palin as a dangerous lightweight.
Top 10 Worst Corporate Income Tax Avoiders
By Senator Bernie Sanders
Tax cuts push debt to new milestone
By Jeanne Sahadi
Tax cuts: One reason why national debt will top GDP
A recent Treasury report noted that national debt will exceed the size of the economy this year -- a first since World War II. A year ago, the Treasury had estimated that notorious record wouldn't be hit until 2014.
Now the expectation is that total debt to GDP will top 102% this year, up from the earlier estimate of 96.4%.
Why the change?
Two factors are likely the biggest cause.
First, the White House's 2011 GDP estimate is $219 billion lower today than it was a year ago. So debt as percentage of a lower number will always look higher.
Second, the debt grew larger because of a tax cut deal brokered by President Obama and Republicans last December. That deal will add an estimated $858 billion to the deficits over a decade -- $410 billion of it in 2011 alone, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Spending cuts alone won't work
The tax cut package extended all the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for another two years, enacted a one-year Social Security tax holiday and reduced the estate tax.
Democrats and Republicans disagree on a lot, but both sides have indicated a desire to make the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent for at least the majority of Americans -- a costly proposition.
And the GOP publicly says it will not consider tax increases as part of any deal to raise the debt ceiling.
Republican Dave Camp, the lead tax writer in the House, said Monday that the latest Treasury numbers are a clear indication "why any increase in the debt limit must be paired with significant spending reductions and real entitlement reforms."
But while Republicans criticize Obama for spending too much, in fact tax cuts would drive most of the debt under Obama's 2012 budget proposal, according to CBO.
That's why deficit hawks on the left and the right advocate letting the tax cuts expire or paying for any further extension. Better yet, replace them with something superior, said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, who noted that this month marks the 10-year anniversary of the 2001 cuts.
"Given that our current tax code is so crummy and our fiscal situation so dire, on this 10-year anniversary, a perfect gift would be a plan to reform the tax code and bring down our debt," MacGuineas said.
At this point, the debt is so big, whether it is just below or just above GDP isn't really a huge distinction.
After examining data from dozens of countries over two centuries, economists Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart found that when a nation's gross debt reaches 90% of its economy, it often loses about one percentage point of growth a year.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
3 nuclear reactors melted down after quake, Japan confirms
By the CNN Wire Staff
Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant experienced full meltdowns at three reactors in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami in March, the country's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters said Monday. The nuclear group's new evaluation, released Monday, goes further than previous statements in describing the extent of the damage caused by events on March 11. Reactors 1, 2 and 3 experienced a full meltdown, it said. The plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., admitted last month that nuclear fuel rods in reactors 2 and 3 probably melted during the first week of the nuclear crisis.
Japan doubles radiation leak estimate
By North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy
Japan's nuclear safety agency has more than doubled its estimate of the amount of radiation released into the atmosphere from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
Tepco Plant Radiation Level Estimate Doubled by Safety Agency
By Tsuyoshi Inajima
Japan’s nuclear safety agency doubled its estimate of radiation released by Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, which was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The station released about 770,000 tera becquerels of radioactive material into the air between March 11 and March 16, Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general at Japan’s nuclear safety agency, said at a briefing in Tokyo today.
The agency previously estimated that about 370,000 tera becquerels of radioactive material were released during the period.
Decontamination Tech Vetted at Japanese Nuclear Plant
Personnel on Sunday started vetting equipment intended to remove radioactive contaminants from massive quantities of water pooling in Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Kyodo News reported (see GSN, June 2).
Toyko Electric Power has battled to prevent radioactive contaminants from escaping the six-reactor Fukushima facility following a March 11 earthquake and tsunami that left more than 20,000 people dead or missing in Japan. The plant operator on Friday said potential delays in installing a new water decontamination system could result in more radiation-tainted liquid escaping the site. Radiation-tainted water has flowed into the Pacific Ocean from the facility on multiple occasions since the March 11 events.
Workers were deploying the cleaning mechanism at a site storing contaminated water moved from the plant's No. 2 and reactors No. 3 reactors. The apparatus is expected to remove at least 99.9 percent of radioactive materials from roughly 1,200 tons of fluid each day, and includes components for capturing cesium and strontium (Kyodo News I/Japan Times, June 6).