2009 Top Nuclear Stories


I used to do regular versions of this, but have lapsed due to ongoing health problems. If you are like most Americans and just want the big splashy one liner stories during the last year, skip the intro.  However, if you want to look a bit closer then continue reading!

As online information tools have advanced over the last two decades, one of the biggest problems facing activists or the general public is information overload. When combined with the overt censorship of the corporate TV industry this makes for an ever growing nightmare across the entire spectrum of issues facing anyone concerned about where this country has been heading. How does any attention deprived issue gain a larger audience when the corporate networks, including PBS continues to spin their own content biased labels out to a culture, using top down policy framing tactics? Thus, for any thoughtful person concerned about what is happening to this country, the biggest issue of the year has always been the same for decades… The corporate media’s top down management of the american public.  IMHO, there are no issues left except except this one issue. Until Every single activist community fully understands the implications and acts, any true headway on this issue or any other will consist of 1 step forward and 5 big pushes back at us. For an issue like nuclear power to come back again couldn’t be a more textbook example of this problem.

For anyone with a modest awareness of this particular issue should see this 2nd nuclear push as nothing more than an attempt by the nuclear weapons industry (Dept. of Energy) to reorganize and fluff its golden nest egg (the nuclear fuel cycle) at the expense of real energy efficiency or the promotion of wind. If this doesn’t make sense, then I suggest you bone up on this issue and in particular how the the Dept. of Energy has privatized nearly 90% of all of its work to giant companies like General Electric, Bechtel, USEC or a handful of others that specialize in nuclear engineering. Its within the Dept. of Energy where advanced research for reactor designs have long been funded. Its where federal R&D nuclear funding falls into the hands of what former president Eisenhower called the military industrial complex.

Personally, having watched this same nightmare exist since the Carter administration, where federal R&D funding for energy efficiency standards have yet to be carried out from the original 1970’s mandate, how is it appropriate to be promoting alternative energy technologies that are deeply flawed due to lack of long term development?  The country has settled into a very dark cynicism over energy usage that has stalemated any real potential for a clear shift away from the tradiational use of energy at the national level.  For example, if the energy usage sector had the same interest as the computer industry has had in developing more powerful, less energy intensive equipment, the problems caused by energy today would be unconsequential.  Yet, we are dealing with overal policy decisions that have been handed over to large private corporations and their associations that are locked into bottom line thinking.  In a rare moment of candor for example, at the peak of the 2001 California Energy crisis caused by a corporate deregulation agenda, Texas energy giants invaded the state and nearly bankrupted the privately owned electric companies.  As part of an indepth investigation of the roots of the crisis it was disclosed that the state’s utilities had used political and legal strategies to destroy the state’s renewable and conservation energy programs that had been launched in the 1970’s.  Yes folks, Clinton administration gladly helped to undermine popular state programs that were then cut back or destroyed like plans to to have electric cars in mass production by 2003.  Thus, when most policies that effect energy usage in this country are privatized, it means that the public has be given good information about how private industries are acting and then mount campaigns to have an effect.  An almost impossible challenge especially as more and more politicians become trapped in the corporate lobbying machines that now govern almost all aspects of this country’s national, state and local political system.

Today, most grassroots groups or individuals opposed to pro-nuclear development have to deal with the distraction of way too many battle fronts at the national an international levels while looking to draw support from a culture where over 80% of the populace rely almost solely on their cultural cues from TV news content.  Not to mention, there are more than just a few other issues competing for any kind of qualitative attention. In particular, for anyone who does have the faculties to look closer at this particular issue, would see that at the national level the nuclear industry has been spending millions of dollars to lobby senators to give billions of dollars in federal loan guarantees to construct exorbitantly priced reactors that Wall Street refuses to finance.  Public opposition had reduced the industry’s loan tactic for a number of years. For example, Connecticut’s Joseph Lieberman called for $500 billion in loan guarantees for the nuclear industry in 2008. What they’ve gotten to date was an initial $13 billion in spending change from the Bush administration in 2005, followed by $18 billion in Dept. of Energy loan guarantees.  At the peak of the now mostly failed renaissance as the national media has coined the industry’s push, there were plans started to construct over 35 new reactors. But opposition has kept the loan guarantees far below what the industry has demanded, resulting in the likelihood of only a few reactors actually going ahead.

The push to build new reactors immediately became a global agenda led by reactor construction companies from France, Japan and Russia.  The industry immediately employed its global PR spin tactics starting with claims that environmentalists have had a change of heart pulling stunts like promoting long time eco-Judas Patrick Moore as a symbol. Just as the global economy took a nose dive in 2008, Bush’s Secretary of Energy made a speech before the Internatioanl Atomic Energy Agency that the country would finance new reactors for country’s around the world. Countries from Australia to Vietnam piled onto Bush’s global agenda with his Energy Secretary travelling outside the U.S. more than his Secretary of State! This new global interest for more reactors was held up in the media here and elsewhere that if you didn’t jump on board you would be made to look like you were being unsavy techwise. Now we are even hearing media outlets using terms like “left-leaning environmental” groups being used to label groups still in opposition. The democrats in the senate all but dislosed their true agenda as the push to pass any kind of Climate Change legislation shifted rightward as time ran out to meet the deadline of passage prior to the Dec. 2009 global climate change conference in Denmark.

The above national and international status doesn’t even begin to describe the underlying localization of activities taking place around the world and how the media micro-manages them.  With over 80% of the country having barely made it through high school, it is very easy to frame such a complex issue down to the lowest common demoninator, allowing proponents to buy public support with dubious spin tactics taking place during the star-chamber debates that only small segements of the public even spend the time on. About the only national attention that could begin to penetrate this highly demotivated, entertainment driven segment part of the society is what could be labeled the Homer Simpson effect.  For anyone concerned, the idea that Bush could use the 2008 oil pricing crisis to promote more oil drilling to an angered general population to undermine environmental issues couldn’t be a more classic example of how quickly the general public can and has been used to stampede issues into the corporate agenda.

Just to make things even more complex, if not worse, is the fact that there is no movement orrientation around the nuclear issues unlike the past. The non-profit managerial model now rules this issue from Washington D.C.  It has funnelled almost all concerns through the operational coffers of the country’s largest environmental organizations.  These large groups have almost a mirror image problem of the larger political issue as any attempt to build a national counter campaign to the pro-nuclear push has been bottled up with DC leadership problems.  These groups are vey open to come together on an emergency basis, but have yet to build a coaltion for the explicit purpose of creating some kind of serious oppositional prescence.  But this complete lack of coordination means that few if any younger college level activists will emerge to take on the issue because it isn’t perceived as a priority.

Top Nuclear Weapons Stories

Obama fakes out the Nobel Committee and continues most of Bush’s foreign policies
Obama backs off NATO push for weapons shield across eastern europe
US’s hypocritical showdown with Iran’s nuclear program continues
Obama Gives nuclear Industry $6 billion to cleanup DOE sites
Hillary Clinton sets North Korean nuclear diplomatic showdown back years with saber rattling
Japan discloses details of secret U.S. nuclear agreement allowing nuclear weapons to be stored and transported
UK’s attempt to build a new generation of Trident subs and weapons tanks
Proliferation concerns acknowledged as IAEA continues to push GNEP outside U.S.
DOE’s reconfiguration agenda being reconfigured again
Obama finalizes Bush’s illegal l 123 treaty with India
Pakistan moving towards failed nuclear weapons state
UN membership outs secret Israeli and U.S. nuclear weapons agenda
Push to restart nuclear weapons testing fails
Global movement for compensation of test victims gains ground.
Bush’s DOE worker compensation program disclosed as a “let em die” holding pattern.
Russia restarts development of new nuclear weapons in the face of NATO/US antagonism.
Call for Nuclear free weapons zone in middle east a non-story in U.S.

Nuclear Power

U.S. nuclear renaissance tanks as wall street refuses to finance reactors.
Attempts to reverse nuclear moratoriums fail across the country
DOE’s $100 billion Yucca Mountain spent fuel repository defunded
US NRC puts Japanese owned Westinghouse AP-1000 design on safety hold
Europe puts EPR design on safety hold after Greenpeace exposes flaws
EDF/Areva tank financially
CPS/NRG pricing scandal over new South Texas reactors
EDF demands that UK government reverse itself to play major role in funding
US-India 123 treaty signed by Obama/Bush opens India to global vendor market
US-UAE GNEP based treaty opens up first major nuclear development in mideast.
EDF takeover of Constellation okayed in Maryland
EDF takeover of Constellation in NY stalls out
Ohio congressperson calls for investigation of Areva
Vermont battle over Yankee licensing takes new turn as Entergy tries to spin off nuke.
U.S. Senate comes to nuclear loan rescue.
Texas licenses first new LLW dump in years
Global nuclear vendors fighting over handful of Mideast, Indian and Chinese contracts
Italy’s Berlusconi reverses anti-nuclear policies
Germany moves to the right, starts defunding renewables and reverses anti-nuclear stand
Japanese industry unable to push new reactors at home.
Russia US nuclear fuel supply contract ironed out (90% of US fuel is from Russia)
Chernobyl radiation and impacts an ugly dark shadow following aging reactors globaly
Nuclear waste showdown in Utah over NRC’s deregulation of DU and DOE’s push to dump 15,000 barells at class a llw facility run by Energy Solutions.
global scandal of LLW dumping hits in Europe
Al Gore comes out against nuclear power!
Canada’s nuclear push peters out as Sasakatchewan decides against development.
Canada decides to sell its government owned CANDU reactor program.
Kazahkstan becomes world’s largest producer of Uranium
global uranium mining boom stalls out as price tanks

DOE $6 Billion cleanup details

GAO privatization Investigation

DOE Awards Questioned

DOE Complex Reconfiguration (references)


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