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12 November 2015

The Nuclear Industry’s Million-Year Waste Cycle: Contaminating Future Generations

The Nuclear Industry’s Million-Year Waste Cycle: Contaminating Future Generations
by Ethan Indigo Smith, Contributing Writer for Wake Up World,
10 November 2015

The nuclear energy and weaponry industries are signs the military-industrial complex is running at white hot. The inherent dangers of the nuclear experiment are the same ones that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us all about in his famous exit speech on 17 January, 1961 when he said: “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, either sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced powers exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.”

But today, despite this warning, the nuclear experimentation industry is still shrouded in scientific and political secrecy, undermining our liberties and democratic processes and risking our health and our very existence in the process. When it all goes wrong — and history shows us this outcome is inevitable — the environmental destruction both of nuclear accidents and planned detonations is global, and permanent.

Year 70 of A Million Year Waste Cycle

There are 23 reactors in the United States, and more in other nations of the same design as the reactor that went sky-high in Fukushima. Although theofficial stance of the industry is that the GE-designed reactor design was not to blame for the ongoing Fukushima disaster, based on its track record it is apparent that the nuclear industry does not have the knowledge to properly assess and mitigate all the risks involved in their experiment — and it is an experiment — nor to safely manage the resulting nuclear waste for even 70 years of the one million years it takes to break down.

Legal and political logic constantly distorts the truth, by way of what information is considered and what is omitted in order to present an “acceptable” understanding. These tactics are imperial and traditional in flavor and practically always underhandedly done by crooked individuals on behalf of crooked institutions. Institutions omit and expound on limited sets of information so as to ‘validate’ their point and promote their schematic.

Explains Andreas Toupadakis, Ph.D, a scientist who resigned from a classified government position maintaining nuclear weaponry on moral grounds to become an educator and peace activist:

It is easy for biased advocates of nuclear power to confuse the public using scientific rhetoric. It is this powerful and immoral tool that the advocates (high paid technocrats) of “the peaceful atom” have been using all these years, and as a result, the public knows virtually nothing about the science of radiation and nuclear materials. But the public maintains common sense, which most of the time is absent from the “experts.” Despite decades of evidence that proves the damage of nuclear radiation, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has continued to downplay both the emitted levels and health effects of radiation exposure on public health…

Recently, the advocates of nuclear energy have been presenting to the people a deceiving choice between nuclear power and global warming. It is basically a form of extortion by the nuclear establishment towards the people… The alternatives of solar power, wind power, geo-thermal power and conservation are just a few of the safe, non-polluting answers to our energy problem but they are methodologically ignored or undermined… Forward thinking nations such asDenmark are already generating 140% of their electricity needs from wind power alone. So why is the US government still advocating for nuclear energy? [source]

When it comes to opposing the skewed logic that supports nuclear experimentation in particular (and oligarchical conventions in general), the most effective approach is to re-open the scope of discussion, encompassing and including larger fields of information than they would like to confront and essentially stifling their reductionist jargon with inarguable observations — in this case, being only 70 years into a million year waste cycle, we are no closer to solving the problem of mounting nuclear waste generated by these continuing programs while being more capable of producing energy in ways that are not destructive. Much like the mounting US financial debt, the problem of unmanageable nuclear waste will also be passed on to future generations to deal with.

What many people don’t consider is that nuclear power plants are just one point of the nuclear waste cycle. Once waste is removed from a nuclear power facility, the disposal and storage of waste still remains a major unresolved issue. The waste is either stored on site or buried underground in facilities that time is proving are incapable of containing radioactive waste for more than a few years. For example, the populations in regions where radioactive waste is stored, such as Savannah River and Yucca Mountain (at which millions of gallons of high-level nuclear waste is stored in 49 leaking tanks), are equally as susceptible to diseases caused by radiation exposure (cancers and thyroid disorders are particularly prevalent) as those communities near active nuclear power plants.

Proving again that the nuclear industry is attempting to contain the uncontainable, just last month the Beatty radioactive waste facility in a rural Nevada county caught fire, again, releasing bursts of white smoke from several explosions of nuclear material:

State emergency management chief Caleb Cage and Fire Marshal Peter Mulvihill said the fire burned unabated after starting Sunday during intense thunderstorms and flash flooding in the area…

Judy Treichel, a longtime opponent of a federal proposal to entomb the nation’s most radioactive material at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, compared the fire near Beatty with incidents that led to EPA Superfund designation for a site that accepted low-level radioactive waste in the 1960s and 1970s at Maxey Flats, Kentucky.

A report from The Guardian elaborates on the conditions at the Beatty facility:

The operator of a closed radioactive waste dump that caught fire in southern Nevada last weekend was troubled over the years by leaky shipments and oversight so lax that employees took contaminated tools and building materials home, according to state and federal records…

Former US senator Richard Bryan, a Democrat who was governor from 1983 to 1989, remembers “an ongoing series of problems” at the Beatty site, including several episodes involving leaking trucks…

In 1979, the then Nevada governor Robert List ordered the Beatty low-level waste facility shut down and launched an investigation after a radioactive cargo fire on a truck parked on US Highway 95, at the facility gate…

In 2010, US Ecology was fined nearly $500,000 by the US EPA at its hazardous industrial waste recycling and disposal plant after inspectors found leaky containers and operating logs showing smoke emissions containing hazardous wastes had been improperly vented in 2008. Inspectors also found poor record-keeping.

Isolating nuclear waste has also proven more difficult than regulators and operators care to admit. Just last year, radioactive was found to be leaking from another storage facility at Bridgeton, Missouri, contaminating a non-nuclear landfill that – in a common theme – caught fire.
Preliminary tests by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have found radioactive waste closer to the underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill than previously thought…

Radioactive waste was supposed to be confined to “Operable Unit 1” in the West Lake Landfill, but preliminary tests have detected it in the Bridgeton Landfill, labeled “Former Active Sanitary Landfill”… That would put the waste outside the limits of the West Lake Landfill, which is part of the radioactive Superfund site under EPA oversight.

Radiological disasters like Fukushima, Hanford, like the disaster looming in Missouri and around the world, are like radiological ovens – the closer you are to it the hotter you become, but the heat radiates out in all directions. According to what we know there are several leaking storage tanks at Hanford, and three loose reactor cores at Fukushima. And who knows what happened to fuel pools at Reactors 1 and 2? It’s too hot to go there. And Reactor 3, well that was MOX fuel, or plutonium.

In 2014, an underground explosion (touted as impossible) at New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (‘Pilot’ meaning experimental and ‘Isolation’ now being a misnomer of wishful thinking) released americium and plutonium into the atmosphere above ground. The underground facility was meant to be able to store nuclear waste for up to 10,000 years (only 1% of the time it takes to break down) but lasted only 16 of operation before its first disaster, with several hundred above-ground workers testing positive to radiation exposure, and airborne radiation detected several miles away.

Said Ryan Flynn, New Mexico’s Environment Secretary: “Events like this simply should never occur… one event is far too many.” But the reality is, they do inevitably happen, just as we have seen Chalk River (Canada), Windscale (UK), Hanford (Washington), South Ural Mountains (Russia), Three-Mile Island (Pennsylvania), Chernobyl (Ukraine), Rocky Flats (Colorado) and Tokaimura (Japan) and Fukushima (Japan). And now the St Louis region is threatened by ignition of waste stored next to the Mississippi River.

While nuclear power generation, nuclear fuel creation, and waste storage facilities clearly pose a danger, it is also important people realize that nuclear power and nuclear arms programs are inherently intertwined. When nuclear reactors produce electricity, they also produce plutonium, which is used to make nuclear bombs. In addition to the contamination caused by nuclear power generation, weapons development programs also create untold contamination, which the industry is unable to properly manage. In fact, in 2000, the National Academy of Sciences reported that most of the sites on which the US government has built nuclear bombs will never be cleaned up enough to allow public access to the land. Ever.

How many more regions of Earth Mother shall we allow to be poisoned and abandoned in the name of nuclear experimentation? Why do we accept the claims of nuclear advocates that nuclear energy is truly a sustainable energy system, when it is clearly not the case? Should we call ‘right’ what is so wrong because it is passively accepted by a society that is so busy with everyday life that it has no time to think deeply about its consequences?
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About the author:

Activist, author and Tai Chi teacher Ethan Indigo Smith was born on a farm in Maine and lived in Manhattan for a number of years before migrating west to California. Guided by a keen sense of integrity and humanity, Ethan’s work is both deeply connected and extremely insightful, blending philosophy, politics, activism, spirituality, meditation and a unique sense of humour.

Ethan’s publications include:
The Complete Patriot’s Guide to Oligarchical Collectivism, an insightful exploration of history, philosophy and contemporary politics.
The Geometry Of Energy: How To Meditate, an empowering four step meditation that promotes individuation and understanding by way of the four dimensions.
The Matrix of Four, The Philosophy of the Duality of Polarity on the subject of the development of individual consciousness.
108 Steps to Be in The Zone a set of 108 meditative practices for self discovery and individual betterment, including techniques to develop balance, transmute sexual energy.

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