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Texas Medical Doctors Testify Before State Senate to Oppose Mandatory COVID Shots

By Brian Shilhavy | Health Impact News | May 8, 2021

This past week the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs took testimony from Texas physicians regarding SB 1669: Stop Forced Vaccination and Vaccine Passports in Texas.

SB 1669 was sponsored by Senator Bob Hall.

You can learn more about this bill at the National Vaccine Information Center’s Advocacy Portal (registration required.)

Here is some of the text provided to the public regarding Senate Bill 1669:

Contact your Texas State Legislators and Demand No Forced Vaccination, No Vaccine Passports, No Exceptions – Support SB 1669

Mandated vaccination in Texas with COVID-19 vaccines will be the reality unless the legislature takes decisive action now.  In fact, it has already started happening.

Houston Methodist Hospital has told its 26,000 employees to get vaccinated by June 7th or get fired. Atria Senior Living, which has 16 facilities in Texas, is requiring all employees to receive 2 COVID-19 vaccines by May 1, 2021 as a condition of employment or face termination.

The city of Farmer’s Branch, Texas is requiring COVID-19 vaccination to access the city run facility called The Branch Connection. Forget taking a cruise with Royal Caribbean from Texas unless you’ve been COVID-19 vaccinated. St. Edwards University in Austin became one of the first colleges to mandate COVID-19 vaccines.

This is just the beginning.

Governor Abbott’s Executive Order Prohibiting COVID-19 Vaccine Passports Falls Short at Protection

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been quoted saying that in Texas, COVID-19 vaccines “are always voluntary and never forced.”

The truth is Executive Order GA 35 falls short at preserving the right of law-abiding Texas citizens to be able to function normally in society without having to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.

EO GA 35 only prohibits the government, or public or private entities funded by the government, from requiring documentation of an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status. This does nothing to prohibit businesses not receiving government funding from banning customers who don’t have a COVID-19 vaccine. Also, this executive order fails to give any protection to employees whose employers are requiring COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.

In addition, the limited protections offered in EO GA 35 will be short lived because the order only applies to “Emergency Use Authorization” (EUA) COVID-19 vaccines.  Once a vaccine has received full FDA approval, the EUA designation no longer applies and therefore neither will any protection in this executive order including the ban on forced vaccination by the government. Full FDA approval will be soon. Moderna, the manufacture of one of the 3 available COVID-19 vaccines, is already seeking full FDA approval, and Pfizer, one of the other manufacturers, announced it would seek full approval in the first half of 2021.

Governor Abbott’s executive order also falls short when compared to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s executive order banning vaccines passports which additionally prohibits all business from requiring COVID-19 vaccination status or post infection recovery status to gain access to or service from the business, and it applies to all COVID-19 vaccines instead of expiring after full FDA approval is achieved. It also protects personal privacy rights by prohibiting the government from publishing or sharing a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status to third parties.

Texans Need a Law Passed to Protect them From Forced Vaccination and Vaccine Passports (If you want to immediately see what you can do to help pass SB 1669 into law in Texas scroll down to “Action Needed)”

We are grateful to announce that Texas history has been made with the filing of
SB 1669 in the Texas Legislature by Senator Bob Hall.

SB 1669 prohibits discrimination or segregation based on vaccination or immune status and prohibits forced vaccination in all areas of your life.

We need your help getting SB 1669 moving as the bill is currently stalled awaiting a hearing in the Senate State Affairs Committee. Legislators need to be educated about the shortcomings in Governor Abbott’s executive order and the vulnerabilities for mandated vaccination in Texas based on current law so they can pass this bill or amend parts of it onto other bills.

This is by far the most comprehensive bill prohibiting mandated vaccination in all areas that could affect your life including government orders, employment, healthcare, education, access to businesses, access to events and venues like sports and concerts, long-term care, nursing homes, insurance, and childcare.

Read more at the National Vaccine Information Center’s Advocacy Portal.

Senator Bob Hall, in his opening statements at the Senate hearing this week stated:

The chief responsibility and Constitutional role of our government is to protect the rights of the individual. Employees can take off their helmets, masks, and uniforms at the end of the work day, but they cannot remove a vaccine.

Dr. Richard Bartlett was the first physician to testify in favor of SB 1669 to Stop Forced Vaccination and Vaccine Passports in Texas.

Dr. Bartlett has over 28 years of medical practice experience and is a veteran primary care and emergency room doctor in West Texas.

Dr. Bartlett is best known since the COVID crisis started as a doctor who has cured many patients using an older, already FDA approved drug, called budesonide, which is an inhaled corticosteroid. (Learn more here.)

During his testimony, Dr. Bartlett explained that there are existing treatments already available to treat COVID patients, making it unnecessary to mandate experimental new “vaccines.”

He pointed to a recent Oxford University study just published that showed 90% success rate in using inhaled budesonide with COVID patients in preventing long-term care or hospitalization.

From the Oxford study:

The STOIC study found that inhaled budesonide given to patients with COVID-19 within seven days of the onset of symptoms also reduced recovery time. Budesonide is a corticosteroid used in the long-term management of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Findings from the phase 2 randomised study, which was supported by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), were published on the medRxiv pre-print server.

The findings from 146 people – of whom half took 800 micrograms of the medication twice a day and half were on usual care – suggests that inhaled budesonide reduced the relative risk of requiring urgent care or hospitalisation by 90% in the 28-day study period. Participants allocated the budesonide inhaler also had a quicker resolution of fever, symptoms and fewer persistent symptoms after 28 days. (Source.)

Dr. Bartlett works in the Emergency Room, and he stated that there are very few patients coming in now with COVID, but “I am now seeing more people come in (to the ER) who are having complications from the COVID shot.”

And Dr. Bartlett points out that these are mostly younger people who were in excellent health before the shot, since Dr. Bartlett works in Lubbock, Texas, which is a college town.

Dr. Ben Edwards of Veritas Medical in Lubbock, Texas, was the next physician to give testimony in favor of SB 1669 to Stop Forced Vaccination and Vaccine Passports in Texas.

Dr. Edwards received his degree from Baylor University, and later graduated from UT-Houston Medical School. He moved to Waco to complete his training at the Waco Family Practice Residency Program where he was Chief Resident. He now operates three clinics in West Texas.

Dr. Edwards stated his concern that “the forced and coerced COVID-19 vaccinations would, in my opinion, be a violation of the Nuremberg Code,” as well as several other international codes on bioethics and human rights.

He cited the fact that the CDC is now reporting 4,178 deaths reported to VAERS, while for the previous 20 years combined there were 4,182 deaths recorded from all vaccines.

He also pointed out that a Harvard Study has previously estimated that only about 1% of all adverse reactions to vaccines are ever reported to VAERS. Two other subsequent studies showed the same thing.

In his own practice, Dr. Edwards stated that he has received “numerous reports within hours of receiving the COVID vaccines that people have suffered strokes, heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms (blood clots), and sudden death.”

Dr. Edwards went on to cite research which shows that those with natural immunity to COVID (they already had it) will see a 2 to 3 fold increase risk of adverse reactions from the COVID shots.

Over half of Texans now have this natural immunity. He stated:

On a personal note, I believe that God gave us an amazingly robust immune system, and I don’t think you can improve on God.

The next physician to testify in favor of SB 1669 to Stop Forced Vaccination and Vaccine Passports in Texas was Dr. Amy Offutt from St. Marble Falls, TX.

Dr. Offutt is trained in Integrative Medicine. She was recently appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to the Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome Advisory Council. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors for ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society).

Dr. Offutt is another physician who has been successfully treating COVID patients with existing early treatment protocols.

She testified:

As of last Friday, my practice has treated 579 acutely ill patients as old as 98 years of age, with only ten hospitalizations and one dead.

The man who died presented on the 12th day of illness was a transplant patient and had already been to the ER multiple times before seeking care from us. This was such an unnecessary tragedy.

Dr. Offutt believes that “informed consent is the core to shared decision making in medicine.”

The next physician to testify in favor of SB 1669 to Stop Forced Vaccination and Vaccine Passports in Texas was Dr. Angelina Farella from Webster, TX.

Dr. Farella is a pediatrician with over 25 years experience. She started out her testimony to the Senate Committee by stating:

I am here today to protect our children in Texas. This is a very scary situation that we are in right now.

Dr. Farella stated that as a pediatrician she has given out tens of thousands of vaccines, and that she is not “anti-vaccine,” but:

I am against this COVID vaccine, if we can even call it that (a vaccine.)

What we are doing to our children with this vaccine is actually criminal.

All of these physicians are “frontline physicians” who actually treat patients, but their clinical experiences in treating COVID patients is being censored by the corporate media, and ignored by the government and Big Pharma, in favor mass vaccination instead.

Here is their testimony. This is from our Rumble Channel, and it is also on our Bitchute Channel.

May 9, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | 8 Comments

We Need to Hear Much More About Florida and Texas and Less About the Latest Covid Hotspots

By Will Jones • Lockdown Sceptics • April 30, 2021

Would that journalists and broadcasters paid as much attention to places with no restrictions doing fine as they do to the latest places experiencing a Covid surge.

All eyes are currently on India and especially Delhi where, after a year of little impact, the virus is making its nasty presence felt. But as Ivor Cummins points out, India for whatever reason has a long way to go to catch up with countries in Europe and the Americas when it comes to Covid deaths. The country is not a good comparison for the UK where the virus is endemic and substantial population immunity is now present.

If only our media would spend as much time telling the population about how Florida lifted its restrictions back in September, how South Dakota never had any, and how Texas and Mississippi reopened in full at the start of March, as they do telling us about how many people are in hospital in Delhi. The latest positive-test data for these open states is in the graph above, along with two other light-restriction states, South Carolina and Georgia. Note the conspicuous lack of surge despite being basically back to normal. What more evidence do our politicians and scientists need that the threat from the virus is overblown and does not warrant social restrictions or emergency measures? Is the Government interested in data which contradict their preferred narrative?

The Telegraph today is reporting that as of June 21st – another seven weeks away – Brits will be permitted once again to attend large events without anti-social and uneconomic distancing requirements and hug one another. Our ultra-cautious scientists are advising that these things might just be okay by then. Though in case you might have thought they would then end the seemingly endless state of emergency, they have said measures such as staggering entries to venues accommodating large groups and good ventilation will still be required. What part of normal don’t they understand?

Nor is there any indication of a move to return international travel to normal, as the country faces more limitations on travel this summer – when most of the country is vaccinated – than last summer – when nobody was. What this has to do with following the science is, as ever, unclear.

What’s strange is that even in America where parts of their own country are living free and showing that the measures aren’t needed, state governments, with popular support and backed by federal agencies, just carry on with their restrictions, lifting them only very slowly and with no obvious commitment to bringing them finally to an end. It’s as though people don’t want to know. Too much has been invested in the lockdown narrative, it seems, for people to be able to cope psychologically with the trauma of facing the truth that it is fundamentally false. Too many reputations are at risk. Too many interests coincide.

Are we doomed to live forever in this Covid state of emergency? I confess it is hard to see what will prompt governments to bring it to an end, now that we live in permanent fear of the appearance of variants and believe we must continually top up the whole world’s antibodies through rolling annual programmes of vaccinations. One of the most depressing thoughts is I find it almost impossible to imagine Boris Johnson facing the camera and announcing: “My friends, our ordeal is over. The data is clear. The virus is now one among many hazards with which we daily must live. Vaccines are available to the vulnerable, as are effective treatments, and we will continually strive to find the safest ways to protect those at risk from this and other illnesses. It is time to resume our old lives. I declare the state of emergency to be over.”

Will we ever reach a point where we no longer even think about whether some activity is “Covid secure”? Where we no longer see our fellow human beings as sources of infection? It would be good to hear much more often from the Government that this is where it believes we are headed, sooner rather than later.

May 1, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

Assigning Blame for the Blackouts in Texas

By Planning Engineer | Climate Etc. | February 18, 2021 

The story from some media sources is that frozen wind turbines are responsible for the power shortfalls in Texas. Other media sources emphasize that fossil fuel resources should shoulder the blame because they have large cold induced outages as well and also some natural gas plants could not obtain fuel.

Extreme cold should be expected to cause significant outages of both renewable and fossil fuel based resources. Why would anyone expect that sufficient amounts of natural gas would be available and deliverable to supply much needed generation? Considering the extreme cold, nothing particularly surprising is happening within any resource class in Texas. The technologies and their performance were well within the expected bounds of what could have been foreseen for such weather conditions. While some degradation should be expected, what is happening in Texas is a departure from what they should be experiencing. Who or what then is responsible for the shocking consequences produced by Texas’s run in with this recent bout of extreme cold?

TRADITIONAL PLANNING

Traditionally, responsibility for ensuring adequate capacity during extreme conditions has fallen upon individual utility providers. A couple decades ago I was responsible for the load forecasting, transmission planning and generation planning efforts of an electric cooperative in the southeastern US. My group’s projections, studies and analysis supported our plans to meet customer demand under forecasted peak load conditions. We had seen considerable growth in residential and commercial heat pumps. At colder temperature these units stop producing heat efficiently and switch to resistance heating which causes a spike in demand. Our forecasts showed that we would need to plan for extra capacity to meet this potential demand under extreme conditions in upcoming winters.

I was raked over the coals and this forecast was strongly challenged. Providing extra generation capacity, ensuring committed (firm) deliveries of gas during the winter, upgrading transmission facilities are all expensive endeavors. Premiums are paid to ensure gas delivery and backup power and there is no refund if it’s not used. Such actions increased the annual budget and impact rates significantly for something that is not likely to occur most years, even if the extreme weather projections are appropriate. You certainly don’t want to over-estimate peak demand due to the increasing costs associated with meeting that demand. But back then we were obligated to provide for such “expected” loads. Our CEO, accountants and rate makers would ideally have liked a lower extreme demand projection as that would in most cases have kept our cost down. It was challenging to hold firm and stand by the studies and force the extra costs on our Members.

Fortuitously for us, we were hit with extreme winter conditions just when the plan went in place. Demand soared and the planned capacity we had provided was needed. A neighboring entity was hit with the same conditions. Like us they had significant growth in heat pumps – but they had not forecasted their extreme weather peak to climb as we had. They had to go to the overburdened markets to find energy and make some curtailments. The cost of replacement power turned out to be significantly greater proportionately than we incurred by planning for the high demand. They suffered real consequences due to the shortcomings of their planning efforts.

However, if extreme winter had not occurred, our neighbor’s costs would have been lower than ours that year and that may have continued many years into the future as long as we didn’t see extreme winter conditions. Instead of the praise we eventually received, there would have at least been some annoyance directed at my groups for contributing to “un-needed expenditures”. That’s the way of the world. You can often do things a little cheaper, save some money and most of the time you can get away with it. But sometimes/eventually you cut it too close and the consequences can be extreme.

The Approach in Texas

Who is responsible for providing adequate capacity in Texas during extreme conditions? The short answer is no one. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) looks at potential forecasted peak conditions and expected available generation and if there is sufficient margin they assume everything will be all right. But unlike utilities under traditional models, they don’t ensure that the resources can deliver power under adverse conditions, they don’t require that generators have secured firm fuel supplies, and they don’t make sure the resources will be ready and available to operate. They count on enough resources being there because they assume that is in their owner’s best interests. Unlike all other US energy markets, Texas does not even have a capacity market. By design they rely solely upon the energy market. This means that entities profit only from the actual energy they sell into the system. They do not see any profit from having stand by capacity ready to help out in emergencies. The energy only market works well under normal conditions to keep prices down. While generally markets are often great things, providing needed energy during extreme conditions evidently is not their forte. Unlike the traditional approach where specific entities have responsibilities to meet peak levels, in Texas the responsibility is diffuse and unassigned. There is no significant long term motivation for entities to ensure extra capacity just in case it may be needed during extreme conditions. Entities that might make that gamble theoretically can profit when markets skyrocket, but such approaches require tremendous patience and the ability to weather many years of potential negative returns.

This article from GreenTech media praises energy only markets as do many green interests. Capacity markets are characterized as wasteful. Andrew Barlow, Head of the PUC in Texas is quoted as follows, “Legislators have shown strong support for the energy-only market that has fueled the diversification of the state’s electricity generation fleet and yielded significant benefits for customers while making Texas the national leader in installed wind generation. ”

Why has Capacity been devalued?

Traditional fossil fuel generation has (as does most hydro and nuclear) inherent capacity value. That means such resources generally can be operated with a high degree of reliability and dependability. With incentives they can be operated so that they will likely be there when needed. Wind and solar are intermittent resources, working only under good conditions for wind and sun, and as such do not have capacity value unless they are paired with costly battery systems.

If you want to achieve a higher level of penetration from renewables, dollars will have to be funneled away from traditional resources towards renewables. For high levels of renewable penetration, you need a system where the consumers’ dollars applied to renewable generators are maximized. Rewarding resources for offering capacity advantages effectively penalizes renewables. As noted by the head of the PUC in Texas, an energy only market can fuel diversification towards intermittent resources. It does this because it rewards only energy that is fed into the grid, not backup power. (Side note-it’s typical to provide “renewable” resources preference for feeding into the grid as well. Sometimes wind is compensated for feeding into the grid even during periods of excess generation when fossil fuel resources are penalized. But that’s another article.)

Traditional planning studies might recognize that wind needs to be backed up by fossil fuel (more so under extreme conditions) such that if you have these backup generators its much cheaper to use and fuel them, than to add wind farms with the accompanying significant investment for concrete, rare earth metals, vast swaths of land … . Traditional planning approaches often have to go to get around this “bias” of favoring capacity providing resources over intermittent resources.

When capacity value is rewarded, this makes the economics of renewables much less competitive. Texas has stacked the deck to make wind and solar more competitive than they could be in a system that better recognizes the value of dependable resources which can supply capacity benefits. An energy only market helps accomplish the goal of making wind and solar more competitive. Except capacity value is a real value. Ignoring that, as Texas did, comes with real perils.

In Texas now we are seeing the extreme shortages and market price spikes that can result from devaluing capacity. The impacts are increased by both having more intermittent resources which do not provide capacity and also because owners and potential owners of resources which could provide capacity are not incentivized to have those units ready for backup with firm energy supplies.

Personal Observations

Wind and solar have value and can be added to power systems effectively in many instances. But seeking to attain excessive levels of wind and solar quickly becomes counterproductive. It is difficult to impossible to justify the significant amounts of wind and solar penetration desired by many policy makers today using principals of good cost allocation. Various rate schemes and market proposals have been developed to help wind and solar become more competitive. But they come with costs, often hidden. As I’ve written before, it may be because transmission providers have to assume the costs and build a more expensive system to accommodate them. It may be that rates and markets unfairly punish other alternatives to give wind and solar an advantage. It may be that they expose the system to greater risks than before. It may be that they eat away at established reliability levels and weaken system performance during adverse conditions. In a fair system with good price signals today’s wind and solar cannot achieve high penetration levels in a fair competition.

Having a strong technical knowledge of the power system along with some expertise in finance, rates and costs can help one see the folly of a variety of policies adopted to support many of today’s wind and solar projects. Very few policy makers possess anything close to the skill sets needed for such an evaluation. Furthermore, while policy makers could listen to experts, their voices are drowned out by those with vested interests in wind and solar technology who garner considerable support from those ideologically inclined to support renewables regardless of impacts.

A simpler approach to understanding the ineffectiveness of unbridled advocacy for wind and solar is to look at those areas which have heavily invested in these intermittent resources and achieved higher penetration levels of such resources. Typically electric users see significant overall increases in the cost of energy delivered to consumers. Emissions of CO2 do not uniformly decrease along with employment of renewables, but may instead increase due to how back up resources are operated. Additionally reliability problems tend to emerge in these systems. Texas, a leader in wind, once again is added to the experience gained in California, Germany and the UK showing that reliability concerns and outages increase along with greater employment of intermittent resources.

Anyone can look at Texas and observe that fossil fuel resources could have performed better in the cold. If those who owned the plants had secured guaranteed fuel, Texas would have been better off. More emergency peaking units would be a great thing to have on hand. Why would generators be inclined to do such a thing? Consider, what would be happening if the owners of gas generation had built sufficient generation to get through this emergency with some excess power? Instead of collecting $9,000 per MWH from existing functioning units, they would be receiving less than $100 per MWH for the output of those plants and their new plants. Why would anyone make tremendous infrastructure that would sit idle in normal years and serve to slash your revenue by orders of magnitudes in extreme conditions?

The incentive for gas generation to do the right thing was taken away by Texas’s deliberate energy only market strategy. The purpose of which was to aid the profitability of intermittent wind and solar resources and increase their penetration levels. I don’t believe anyone has ever advanced the notion that fossil fuel plants might operate based on altruism. Incentives and responsibility need to be paired. Doing a post-mortem on the Texas situation ignoring incentives and responsibility is inappropriate and incomplete.

February 19, 2021 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

Texas: ‘Arab rejection of Israel led to Israeli-Palestinian conflict’

Ma’an – September 17, 2018

BETHLEHEM – The State Board of Education of Texas, in the United States, voted to require teachers to teach students that the “Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict,” The Dallas Morning News reported.

The Jerusalem Post news outlet said that “this change will be made in ‘the rise of independence movements in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia and reasons for ongoing conflicts’ section in high school social studies curriculum.”

The board also voted, over the weekend, to remove certain historical figures from the teaching syllabus, such as former first lady and secretary of state Hillary Clinton and author and political [anti-war] activist Helen Keller, as part of an effort to “streamline” the curriculum in public schools.

Reportedly, “the board also included Moses as an influence on the writing of the nation’s founding documents, while it removed political philosopher Thomas Hobbes from that section.”

The Dallas Morning News also reported that the voting was not final yet and could be amended by the board before the final vote in November.

This is not the first time all eyes focused on Texas’s education system. “In 2002 and 2014, the board adopted a new generation of social studies products. Moses was mentioned explicitly in learning standards in Texas, and publishers responded by including him in textbooks,” according to National Public Radio.

September 17, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

The California – New Mexico Nuclear Connection

By James Heddle | CounterPunch | June 7, 2018

Target: ‘Nuclear Alley,’ New Mexico

In the past few weeks – un-reported in the scandal/crisis-pre-occupied American main stream media – New Mexico has become the epicenter of an on-going national controversy: how to responsibly manage the tons of radioactive waste accumulated at all the nuclear energy reactors around the country so far in the Nuclear Age.

Why, New Mexicans and others around the country are asking, has this region suddenly become the potential target destination for all of America’s radioactive waste?

Will the Shimkus Bill ‘Bring Death to New Mexico’?

New Mexico cattle rancher Ed Hughs is one of the many around that state and the country who think so.

Having, with his neighbors, just successfully fought off a proposed deep bore hole nuclear waste depository next to his ranch in Quey County, NM, Hughs told a recent Roswell, New Mexico NRC meeting to rousing applause,

“There are a lot of questions that have not been answered. One of the questions, how do you retrieve if there are accidents? How do you monitor? How do you repair? Those questions have not been answered. So I guess in summing up I want to say that the Holtec and Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, and I agree with an earlier statement that, you know, you aren’t bad people in the sense that you are trying to do us harm, but you are making a huge mistake…. You are in fact proposing to bring death to New Mexico.”

Yucca Redux and the ‘Fukushima Freeway’

The Congressional trigger to this rising national controversy is the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 2018, HR 3053, known as the Shimkus Bill, which recently passed the House on its way to the Senate.

It calls for restarting the failed Yucca Mountain Project in Nevada, and establishing a system of Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS) sites for radioactive waste around the country until Yucca is operational.

First on the list of possible ‘temporary’ CIS nuke dumps is a site proposed by Holtec International and the local Eddy-Lea Alliance just outside Hobbs, New Mexico. It’s just over the border from Andrews, Co., Texas – where another high level nuke waste dump is also being proposed by Waste Control Specialists, which already operates a controversial toxic materials dump in the area.

In early may, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a series of five so-called ‘scoping’ meeting around New Mexico to take public comments on the Holtec/Eddy-Lea site proposal.

Proponents of the dump tout it as a regional economic boon and a patriotic service to the nation.

Opponents see it as a public health, environmental and economic disaster waiting to happen that could ruin the region’s thriving dairy ranching, pecan growing and oil drilling industries.

Planned to eventually hold more metric tons of waste than Yucca Mtn. itself will be designed for, the Hobbs site could well become – if the Yucca site never gets built – America’s de facto national dump site, and make the region a national ‘nuclear sacrifice area.’

The region targeted for the proposed ‘interim’ radioactive waste storage sites is already known to the region’s population as ‘nuclear alley.’

Welcome to Nuclear Alley

Nuclear Alley is on the edge of one of the world’s richest and – currently on pace to be – most productive petroleum patches: the Permian Basin, which straddles the New Mexico-Texas border.

We traveled there recently for our forthcoming documentary series on the shutdown and decommissioning of California’s last remaining nuclear energy plants at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon. We also wanted to express our support of the groups resisting the ill-conceived consolidated interim storage agenda.

Along with the coming cascade of waste from other scheduled nuclear power reactor shutdowns around the country, California’s radioactive waste could well be headed for New Mexico… if the proposed Holtec and WCS ‘Consolidated Interim Storage’ sites are licensed by the industry-captured NRC.

Oil Patch Central

To get to this region we flew into Midland, Texas. The thriving city is a prime beneficiary of the area’s present oil- and gas-fueled economic boom. As we got off the plane, we entered a bustling airport space dominated by a battery of animated electronic screens showing glitzy ads – not for consumer goods – but for the region’s thriving, readily available, fracking and oil drilling services and products.

From Midland we headed to Eunice, New Mexico, an epicenter of New Mexico’s Nuclear Alley. To get there, we drove through endlessly flat countryside dotted every few yards stretching to the horizon with temporarily dormant or busily functioning oil pumps.

Rose Gardner is a feisty Hispanic grandmother and co-founder of the Alliance for Environmental Strategies organization in opposition to the Holtec dump.  In keeping with her name, she runs a flower shop on the Main Street of Eunice.

The little town’s local landscape is dominated by the presence, just five minutes up the highway, of Waste Control Specialists’ toxic waste materials site – where WCS is proposing adding a new CIS ‘parking lot’ nuclear dumpsite.

Just next-door to WCS is the Urenco uranium enrichment facility, which supplies much of the fuel for the country’s nuclear power reactors.  [A January, 2018 NRC Inspection Report noted both a security violation and the loss of criticality controls at this Urenco plant.]

Both proposed sites are about 40 miles from the now infamous Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP), where more than 171,000 waste containers are stored in salt caverns 2,100 feet underground.

Touted as the demonstration ‘Flagship’ model for the feasibility of long-term deep geological radioactive storage facilities for nuclear weapons waste, and advertised to last for thousands of years, WIPP experienced underground fires and explosions on February 14, 2014, after only 15 years of operation.

The disaster caused a major radiation release of plutonium and americium that contaminated at least 22 workers. The release was tracked by monitors and acknowledged by DOE as far away as 26 miles.

Reports the LA Times “the explosion ranks among the costliest nuclear accidents in U.S. history, according to a Times analysis. The long-term cost of the mishap could top $2 billion, an amount roughly in the range of the cleanup after the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.”

But, says the Southwest Research and Information Center’s Dan Hancock, “There is no question the Energy Department has downplayed the significance of the accident.”

Diagnosed as being caused by the use of the use of ‘organic cat litter’ in the storage barrels, the WIPP disaster was dubbed a ‘comedy of errors’ by commentators around the world. Not to worry. Sustaining such huge potential costs (that are charged to the state of New Mexico) WIPP is now again accepting waste – presumably packed with the right brand of inorganic kitty litter.

Cui Bono?

Guiding us on a tour of the local Eunice roadside attractions, Rose showed us a sprawling, sun-baked trailer park, on land owned by a local politician. The bleak dusty field is home for many of the workers at the town’s two dominant facilities.

If WCS succeeds in getting an NRC license for a CIS site here, the workers’ ranks will expand, and so will the trailer park owner’s profits. That’s one of the ‘economic benefits,’ Rose noted to us wryly, that are loudly touted by the region’s CIS advocates.

“This crap that could kill us!”

Speaking at the NRC’s first regional meeting in Roswell, Gardner told the standing-room-only crowd,

This isn’t the right thing to do. It’s an injustice to this state, to this community…. Most of the people in this area are like me, Brown-skinned or darker. We’re already poor. We don’t have insurance. We speak another language and we’re at least 50 percent here. And that’s an environmental injustice because they’re basically saying it’s okay… because those people aren’t going to speak up, because they can get run over just like they’ve been run over for the last several hundred years.

I’m here to tell Holtec, ‘Hell No, we don’t want it!’ I am so sick and tired of all these big companies coming into New Mexico or close to my town in Eunice, wanting to give us all this crap. This crap that could kill us!

New Mexico as ‘National Sacrifice Area?’

Leona Morgan, a fiery young Diné [Navajo] community organizer and co-founder of  New Mexico’s Nuclear Issues Study Group, expands on Rose’s points.

“Starting with uranium mining and milling,” she says, “to modern weapons production, uranium enrichment, and storage of low-level and transuranic wastes, New Mexico has been targeted as a national sacrifice zone for too long,”

“New Mexico is the birthplace of nuclear colonialism,” Morgan points out. “We have been impacted by just about every step in the nuclear fuel chain! We did not generate this waste from nuclear reactors that is intended to come here. So why should we take it? As a state with many indigenous nations and people of color, and being at the tail end of several measures of quality of life, it is environmental racism at its core to keep dumping on New Mexico. And it’s time to stop!”

Speaking to the NRC meeting in Hobbs, New Mexico, Morgan gave a greeting in her native language and went on to remind the group that they were assembling on land originally stolen from the Mescalero Apache and Comanche tribes. “The things I want to talk about,” she said, “have to do with indigenous rights across the nation.“

“How many of you from the NRC or any of the regulating Agencies are aware,” she asked, “of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? Or, for that matter, any of the elected officials here, how many of you know about this document called the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples passed in 2008?”

She scanned the crowd.

“Okay, let the record show no hands going up. How many of you are aware of the Organization of American States’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?“

She glanced around at the blank official faces.

“Okay, again, nobody’s hands went up. This was passed in 2016 and so I’d like to read directly from this Declaration.”

She went on to quote language from the Declarations’ Articles declaring that

Article 19: Indigenous peoples are entitled to be protected against the introduction of abandonment, dispersion, transit, indiscriminate use or deposit of any harmful substance that could negatively affect indigenous communities’ lands, territories, and resources.

And that

Article 22: The indigenous law and legal systems shall be recognized and respected by the national, regional, and international legal systems

“The reason I’m reading this,” she told the meeting, “is because it cites that the Federal Government needs to recognize tribal law.”

“Specifically with my tribe, the Navajo nation, we have a law against the transport of radioactive materials through our lands.

“So, if this transport should occur, it’s directly violating our tribe’s laws that were put in place because of all the history and the health impacts of the horrendous things that the United States did, not just going back to the genocide of our people but more recently, the exploitation of uranium on our lands.

“And so we have a law against uranium mining and we have a law against transport because we’ve already suffered the impacts from these industries for United States imperialism and capitalism. And so that did not benefit our people. We wrote these laws for the protection of our future generations, however, they are not being respected here.”

Based on indigenous historical experience, it would be a pleasant surprise if such legal provisions were ruled to be within the scope of the NRC’s consideration of the Eddy-Lea/Holtec license application for their proposed project.

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

The Eddy-Lea Alliance Project’s point man and lead salesman is John Heaton, a former member of the NM state legislature and current Chairman of the Alliance.

The Alliance is a limited liability corporation made up of 8 people appointed by the Councils of Hobbs, Lea, Eddy and Carlsbad counties. According to its promotional material it was “Formed Under the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) for Economic Development Purposes in 2006 & to Respond to Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) Proposal from DOE.”

Heaton qualifies as what Eric Hoffer called a ‘True Believer’ in his 1951 best seller of that title. Heaton’s energetic sales-pitch is persuasive… at least to the uninformed.

As Heaton tells it, seeing opportunity in a recommendation by Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’ Nuclear Future for creation of ‘consent-based’ Centralized Interim Storage sites around the country, the Alliance believed it had secured what Heaton calls ‘an ideal site.’ It’s located 35 miles outside the town of Hobbs, and about equidistant from the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) outside Carlsbad.

Although ‘consent-based siting’ was recommended by Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission, the DOE has not finalized rules for how a state or community gives or denies consent. Already some cities have forced construction of highway bypasses around their metropolitan jurisdictions.

New Mexico’s ‘High Nuclear IQ’ vs. ‘Fear Mongering’

Heaton describes the proposed Eddy-Lea site as ‘dry’ and ‘seismically stable.’  In addition he says, because of all the existing neighboring facilities in Nuclear Alley, “we have what I call an area of the country with a very high nuclear IQ. The local population understands nuclear materials,” he claims, “and know they can now be handled competently.”

“This is deja vu for us,” an irritated Heaton told the NRC in its Hobbs meeting. “We went through this same thing with WIPP. We went through all the fear mongering. WIPP has shipped more than 12,000 shipments and traveled over 14 million miles. That’s like going to the moon and back 28 times, without a serious accident and absolutely no release.”

However, there are many members of that regional ‘high nuclear IQ population’ Heaton refers to who also remember that – touted as the country’s flagship deep geological nuclear waste repository, designed to remain secure for ten thousand years – WIPP suffered an explosion and release of plutonium in 2014, after a mere15 years of operation.

An ‘Ideal Site’ for Holtec

Having secured their ‘ideal site,’ the Alliance issued an RFP to potential contractors and chose Holtec. “Because,” Heaton says, “they are a great company with a fabulous record [and] have the best, safest, most secure system in the world.”

Joy Russell is a Holtec Vice President and nuclear engineer who is proud, she told us, of being both a West Point graduate and a co-designer of the Holtec transport cask modeled by the scaled-down inflatable replica being toured around the state by opponents as the growing Halt Holtec campaign gathers momentum.

She boasts that her company has been in the radioactive waste storage business for over 30 years, and that “sixty per cent of nuclear plants in the U.S. use Holtec dry storage equipment.”

“We have an impeccable safety record,” Russell told an NRC community meeting in Roswell, NM. “None of our equipment has ever experienced a safety issue, ‘leak,’ as you so call it.

But, I would like to point out,” she told the Roswell auditorium – packed 5-1 with opponents of the proposed project – in a tone dripping with ill-concealed condescension, “spent nuclear fuel is not a liquid, it can’t ‘leak’.”

Opponents cite a number of disquieting facts, which call Heaton and Russell’s confident public relations assertions into question.

Halt Holtec!

A group of New Mexico and Texas organizations, including the Nuclear Waste Study Group, the SEEDS Coalition, and Alliance For Environmental Strategies, started a ‘Halt Holtec’ campaign. They toured an inflated, scaled-down model of the kind of transport cask proposed by Holtec that would carry thousands of shipments of highly radioactive waste shipments through the nation’s towns and metropolitan areas on dilapidated highways, bridges and railway lines for the next 20 years or more.

One significant result of their campaign is that on Monday, May 21, the Albuquerque City Council, in a 4-3 vote, approved what it called a ‘memorial’ against the transportation of nuclear waste through the Albuquerque metropolitan area.

Similar measures by other municipalities and counties along the potential shipment routes around the country are in the works.

Details and additional Cask Tour dates will be posted online at: 
www.facebook.com/HaltHoltec

Websites with more information:
   Here   Here    Here

‘Strange Bedfellows’

The Halt Holtec Campaign has quickly gathered strong momentum surprising both to its organizers, and the Holtec dump proponents, whose claim of ‘wide-spread regional public support’ has been totally debunked by the turnout in opposition to the project. Public statements have so far run 5-1 ‘against’ the proposed site in all five New Mexico NRC meetings.

At the recent series of NRC community meetings, this opposition was strong from a wide cross section of New Mexico and Texas demographic sectors, including Native American Tribes, growers, ranchers, the Jewish and Christian faith communities, and the powerful oil and gas fracking industry.

A regional leader of that booming industry is the Fasken Oil and Ranch company, which has been in business since 1913. Their representative, Jimmy Carlisle, explained his company’s position to the visiting NRC officials.

I work for Fasken Oil and Ranch based in Midland. We are an oil and gas company, but we also are a major landowner in the State of Texas.

We own some 200,000 net acres in the State of Texas. Our largest ranch is a 165,000 acre contiguous ranch just north and west of Midland.

The WCS site definitely comes into play in this discussion. The Holtec side, however, has the same issues … groundwater issues.

On our ranches [we depend on] everything we look at: we look at vegetation, we look at soil characteristics, we look at moisture in the soil, but the thing we watch the closest is the quantity and the quality of our groundwater.

Our company is the first one really in West Texas that made the determination to get off of use of fresh water in our drilling and fracking operations and we started recycling produced water and using brackish water as a result.

So we believe firmly that the freshwater issue is a major significance that has to be addressed.

Stressing that the State Engineer’s Office lacks definitive maps of the ground water aquifer locations in New Mexico, Carlisle told the NRC panel, “We’re not alone in this fight.”

Explaining that it had taken ‘less than two hours to get four letters of opposition from major landowners in West Texas, Carlisle concluded,

Groundwater, folks, is the lifeblood of the ranching business. If you don’t have groundwater you’d just own dirt. Think about that for a second.

The bottom line is we believe that this [Holtec] application and the WCS application need to be withdrawn.

A group letter from oil industry representatives to Holtec warned that Holtec and the Eddy-Lea Alliance would ‘need more money than God’ to compensate them if their project damaged the thriving drilling industry in the oil- and gas-rich Permian Basin, which is currently on pace to become the world’s most booming region of petroleum production.

“I don’t intend to let this thing run over us.”

Randy Prude, an influential county commissioner from Midland, Texas, told the Roswell NRC meeting that he had spent $2000 of his own money to fly Fasken representative Jimmy Carlisle and other opposition speakers to the event.

“I intend to organize all the ranchers and all the commissioner’s courts and everybody in all the governments in all this whole region,” Commissioner Prude went on.

I will tell you, I am an odd duck, I am a Republican — (Laughter) and this is not a Republican or a Democrat issue, this is an important issue to all of us….

I just cannot tell you the horror that could happen if we ever have an accident. And so I intend to organize all of our governments that are willing to listen….

I am going to get to all the ranchers and all the ranch oil men to contact their commissioners and their mayors and their representatives, house representatives, senators, and so forth, and I don’t intend to let this thing run over us.

The Permeable Permian

The contentions by dump proponents that the Eddy-Lea/Holtec site is ‘dry and seismically stable’ were repeatedly debunked by facts presented by opposing speakers.

Activists visiting the site, despite Heaton’s attempts to stop them, discovered clear signs that it contains a ‘playa,’ where seasonal rain water collects, feeding the ground water deposits and aquifer below.

The region’s most famous tourist attraction – the Carlsbad Cavern – was formed by such a subterranean body of water, the Capitan Reef Aquifer.

“It’s hard to think of a worse place to choose for placing an interim waste site,” consulting geologist Dr. Steve Schafersman told the meeting.

The area is surrounded by aquifers, some close, some far. The sediments and the sedimentary rock are porous and permeable. The thin barrier they claim is on the top is not sufficient. It’s just like the WCS site, which is really no better. So this is not a good place to put a hazardous waste site, especially one for nuclear waste.

There are soluble rocks below the site, limestone and rock salt. There is karst limestone in the area, which is a soluble limestone that develops caverns, the caverns collapse and sinkholes develop.

It is conceivable that a sinkhole would collapse and take down the depository with it, which would be a terrible, colossal tragedy. In addition there is the soluble Salado formation below that.

In West Texas unplugged wells carry fluids to this formation, the salt dissolves, and sinkholes develop. This is a matter of fact.

An Earth-Shaking Announcement of Seismic Significance

Several of the opposition speakers referred to a recently-published, peer-reviewed study in the March 16, 2018 issue of Nature, with the catchy title, ‘Association between localized geohazards in West Texas and human activities, recognized by Sentinel-1A/B satellite radar imagery.

The study by Southern Methodist University geophysicists Jin-Woo Kim and Zhong Lu reported literally earth-shaking findings.

It showed that, in the last two and a half years, large sections of the four Texas counties they studied, spanning a 4000-square-mile area, had shown ‘vertical deformation,’ that is, sunk or uplifted as much as 40 centimeters or nearly 16 inches.

“The ground movement we’re seeing is not normal. The ground doesn’t typically do this without some cause,” said co-author Zhong Lu, a recognized global expert in satellite radar imagery research.

“These hazards represent a danger to residents, roads, railroads, levees, dams, and oil and gas pipelines, as well as potential pollution of ground water,” Lu declared.

Co-author Jin-Woo Kim notes that, “This region of Texas has been punctured like a pin cushion with oil wells and injection wells since the 1940s and our findings associate that activity with ground movement.”

In fracking, liquid is injected into bore holes under pressure, then extracted, causing uplift while the wells are in operation, and subsidence when they are abandoned.

The researchers’ Nature article states,

… the rapid subsidence is likely induced by the freshwater impoundments from the nearby abandoned wells. During our field trip, we observed numerous recent ground fissures…. These growing fissures can allow the rainwater to swiftly flow down to the Salado formation and promote the dissolution of the salt layers. [ Thus causing subsidence. ]

Although their analysis focused on just that one 4000-square-mile area, Kim says, “We’re fairly certain that when we look further, and we are, that we’ll find there’s ground movement even beyond that.”

The area they’ve studied so far lies just adjacent to the two proposed storage sites in New Mexico and Texas.

The Oil Drilling and Fracking Connection – Oil & Nuclear Waste Don’t Mix

Evidence of the links between oil and gas extraction and earth movement are clear. Researching an unprecedented swarm of earthquakes in Oklahoma and Texas, a 2016 Stanford University study published in Science found a direct connection between a quake series in Texas in 2012 and 2013, which included the largest on record, and the high volume injection of wastewater into oil and gas fracking wells that happened between 2005 and 2007. The high pressure forced water into fault zones and triggered the subsequent quakes, the study showed. Read more

One of the people Commissioner Randy Prude flew in to speak at the Roswell meeting was Cody Rogers. “I am an ex-Navy nuke,” he told the NRC. “I have operated nuclear reactors for eight years. I am a huge proponent of nuclear power. I think we need it. We have 99 operating nuclear reactors. We do not have anywhere to dispose of the spent fuel. This is a major, major problem and we have to fix it.

“I know we need a site” Rogers told the group. But the Eddy-Lea/Holtec site, he said emphatically, “is not it.”

“We [the U.S.] are on the cusp of being the world’s largest energy producer, okay. We are going to control oil very soon. We are going to control our own destiny. So West Texas is one of the most valuable places in the world right now, especially in the United States, and, because of this I implore you to look up the study from SMU. West Texas is sinking… fast!

“I know we need a site. This is not it. If this thing sinks and we get something like the WIPP accident, that was never supposed to happen, the environmental impact is forever, and if we lose West Texas oil, natural gas, the people of Roswell, the people of New Mexico, the people of Texas, the United States, we’re done.

”We’re not going back to Saudi Arabia and getting their oil. We need independence and this site is sinking and I truly believe that we need to look at that and study its environmental impact.”

Reputations and Rap Sheets

Opponents stress that entrusting the economic and environmental future of this area to companies with corporate histories like those of Holtec and Waste Control Specialists is a highly risky proposition.

Growth Industry

With aging reactors closing down around the country in an accelerating cascade – and with no ‘national permanent geological repository’ for their accumulated SNF in sight – decommissioning and radwaste storage are on pace to become major growth industries for some time to come.

Holtec’s visionary head Dr. Krishna Singh is positioning his huge company, based in Camden, New Jersey, to dominate both industries, as well as to be a leader in the manufacture of small modular reactors (SMRs), the failing nuclear energy industry’s latest bid for survival.

Back in October 2010, based on the results of a criminal investigation of bribery, conducted by its Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) debarred Holtec International, Inc. for sixty days. And fined it $2 million.

According to a TVA document,

Holtec agreed to pay a $2 million administrative fee and submit to independent monitoring of its operations for one year. The TVA Board’s Audit, Risk, and Regulation Committee and TVA management fully supported the OIG’s recommendation to create a suspension and debarment process and submit Holtec to that process. TVA’s Supply Chain organization and Office of General Counsel worked collaboratively with the OIG to achieve this milestone in TVA history. Why wasn’t the company permanently debarred? A subsequent Department of Justice document seems to suggest that a TVA employee may have been bribed by Holtec to falsify a financial disclosure report. Read more.

Meanwhile, just miles away on the other side of the state border in Texas, Waste Control Specialists (WCS) and its new French partner Orano each have their own checkered pasts.

WCS was founded in 1989 as a landfill company by Texas billionaire Harold Simmons, who controlled it until his death in 2013. During that time, Simmons used his financial muscle and political connections to morph the site into a licensed low level waste dump with some highly questionable maneuvers.

His generous support for then Texas Governor, now Energy Secretary Rick Perry, no doubt eased his path. Critics allege that “Radioactive Rick” Perry appointees at key regulatory agencies bent rules on WCS’s behalf, including the Texas Water Development Board’s altering of maps showing that Simmons’ waste facility is located over part of the Ogallala Aquifer, which underlies and supplies drinking and agricultural water for eight western bread basket states. Another water body, the Dockum Aquifer lies nearby as well. Many Texas environmental officials resigned in protest.

For its part, WCS’s new partner Orano, parent company of Orano USA, is a recent reincarnation of the radically reorganized French government-owned struggling reactor maker AREVA, after years of business losses brought it to the brink of bankruptcy.

These are the strange bedfellows hoping to profit from the nuclear energy industry’s decline by making New Mexico’s ‘nuclear alley’ America’s de facto radioactive waste repository for the foreseeable future.

There are several things wrong with this scenario, not the least of which, as noted, is that poor and minority residents make up a large portion of the population in and around ‘Nuclear Alley.’

Until and unless the existing Nuclear Waste Policy Act is changed by currently proposed, but not yet enacted legislation, licensing of these CIS sites will be illegal. This is because the Act requires that a permanent repository is approved before any consolidated interim storage site can be licensed.

If the NRC were to license the sites without a central repository being established, they would likely become in effect the national dump, because utilities would probably stop lobbying for – and lawmakers could be less inclined to authorize funding for – establishing a central repository.

If that happens, thousands of shipments of deadly radioactive waste will be moving daily along rail and truck transportation corridors, through our nation’s population centers, for decades to come.

A Shell Game of Nuclear Russian Roulette on Wheels

Eddy-Lea/Holtec project proponents are fond of citing the transport record claimed by the Navy, which proudly states that it has been shipping both new and used nuclear fuel cross-country by rail for over 60 years without mishap.

However the Navy admits that, “All shipments [are] classified (security) and invoke the Department of Transportation (DOT) National Security Exemption (49CFR173.7b).” It claims that 850 spent fuel containers have been safely shipped from March, 1957 to the present.

However, no radioactive labels and placards are ever used in these boxcar and flatcar shipments, and there is no advance notification given to authorities along the route, so reports of any incidents that may have occurred would also be classified – secret for ‘security reasons.’

Those 850 shipments over 6 decades are far fewer than the estimated 17,000 shipments it would take to move the projected 173,000 metric tons of radioactive SNF from US nuclear plants to the Eddy-Lea/Holtec site across the entire lower 48 states in the coming years.

Government documents show that other details of Navy shipping methods make them significantly different than those anticipated for the Shimkus Bill’s proposed nation-wide rail, highway and barge transport network:

+ Transport has been along only one specific rail route;

+ The Navy uses a different containment system than the Holtec transport cask;

+ Each Navy transport cask holds just 1/10th of what is planned for each Holtec spent fuel canister.

Itemizing Nuclear Transport Risks

Kevin Kamps from the Washington DC-based group Beyond Nuclear traveled to New Mexico to show his organization’s solidarity with the Halt Holtec movement and to share knowledge gained from a professional life spent campaigning for nuclear safety.

His hand-out list of the documented high risks involved in transporting highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel, whether by train, truck, or barge, on rails, roads, or waterways included “high-speed crashes into immovable objects, like bridge abutments, or high-temperature long-duration fires, or long-duration underwater submergence.”

“Intentional attacks,” he warned, “such as by anti-tank missiles or shaped charges, could also breach shipping containers and release their contents into the environment.”

Since Holtec has claimed in its license application that any and all NRC certified canisters can be accommodated at this facility, Kamps explained, not only rail-sized shipping containers must be worried about, but also legal weight limits for the truck casks which would travel on interstate highways throughout the country.

“X-Ray Machines that can’t be Turned Off”

Contrary to Holtec VP Joy Russell’s reassurance that, since spent fuel shipments aren’t liquid, “they can’t leak,” all shipments would emit dangerous gamma and neutron radiation for several yards in every direction, dissipating with distance. Because of the large expense and added weight necessary to provide shielding against these gamma and neutron emissions, the NRC has set ‘allowable’ limits.

“But,” Kamps reminded the meeting, “Allowable does not mean safe. Any exposure to ionizing radioactivity carries a health risk, and these risks accumulate over a lifetime.”

According to NRC guidelines, at six feet away from the container’s exterior surface, a dose rate of 10 millirem per hour is allowed – about one to two chest x-rays’ worth per hour.

At the exterior surface of the container, the allowable dose rate increases dramatically to 200 millirem per hour. That’s 20 to 40 chest x-rays’ worth.

But workers, such as truck drivers, locomotive engineers, inspectors, security guards, and the like, who come in very close physical proximity into the shipping container would be exposed to the highest radiation dose rates.

Even innocent passersby and bystanders in the general public would also be exposed, including those who live close to transport routes exposed to large numbers of shipments going by over time.

Some people, Kamps noted, such as pregnant women, should not be exposed to any radiation dose that can be avoided due to the high risk of harm caused to the fetus in the womb.

He reported that the state of Nevada, based on federal government data, has documented 49 incidents of accidental surface contamination on these highly radioactive waste shipments between the years of 1949 and 1996.

And in France, Areva Corporation has had many hundreds of externally contaminated shipments, a full one-quarter to one-third of all shipments bound for the La Hague reprocessing facility. On average, these French contamination incidents emitted 500 times the allowable radiation dose rates. One even emitted 3,300 times the allowable dose rate.

De Facto National Dump in Disguise?

But, perhaps the greatest danger to be considered by New Mexicans, Kamps, warned, is the “question of temporary versus permanent.”

This is the danger, Kemps says, of so-called centralized or consolidated interim storage facilities becoming actually de facto permanent surface storage parking lot dumps.

Holtec-ELEA have applied for a permit to NRC to store irradiated nuclear fuel here for 40 years. But this time period could, as they admit, be extended to 120 years.

But, Kamps’ research shows that, on page 12 of a January 27th, 2017 report that Holtec prepared and submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Andrew Griffith over company Vice President Joy Russell’s signature, Holtec’s response to the DOE request for proposal on centralized interim storage, stated that “the CIS should have a minimum service life of 300 years.”

“How can 40 years be called temporary, let alone 300?” Kemps asked the gathering. “That’s longer than the United States has been a country.”

“So, just to end with some political reality,” he said, “If this waste comes out here, it would turn out to be one New Mexico member of the United States House of Representatives versus 434 others for it to ever move again. And in the U.S. Senate it would be a vote of 98 against 2.”

“So,” Kemps concluded, “folks had better think about this deeply before it’s allowed to come out here.”

‘Chernobyl in a Can’

Expanding on the theme of transportation risks, EON producer, Mary Beth Brangan pointed out that “Every one of these canisters that would be coming would contain roughly as much cesium alone, as was released in the Chernobyl accident. Every canister. […]

“My partner and I are here,” Brangan told the meeting, “because we’re very, very concerned about this. And I want to assure you there are other Californians who do not want to send their radioactive waste here.

“We don’t want to do that for a great many reasons but the first one is its environmental racism, and we really object to the concept of putting anymore of the burden of the nation’s radioactivity on your communities,” she said to appreciative applause.

We were not the only concerned Californians who came to the NRC’s New Mexico scoping meetings to say, “We don’t want our radioactive waste dumped on you.”

Another was Southern California urban planner and community organizer Torgen Johnson, whose efforts helped shut down San Onofre’s reactors. He flew in to the Albuquerque meeting to show support for the Halt Holtec Campaign and network with regional organizers.

“The New Mexico people hammered Holtec and the NRC,” he reported. “They didn’t need our help, but they welcomed our solidarity. It was so great and encouraging to hear these well-informed, passionate and articulate people expressing the same concerns we have at the other end of the potential rail line.”

Johnson says he heard testimonies from down-winders of the 1945 Trinity test with long, tragic family histories of cancer and health impacts. Being among them, he says, deepened his understanding of the human rights, social justice and environmental issues at stake, and his commitment to continued public education about them.

What impressed him, he says, is the realization of the “Link between the low income, red and brown people in New Mexico and wealthy white people in Southern California – both being victimized by the plans and decisions of Holtec and the NRC.”

“Its a representative cross-section of America” he says, “united against the onslaught of the nuclear waste disposal industry.”

Sharon and Ace Hoffman, whose efforts had also contributed to the shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear plant, attended several of the meetings to share their experience and voice their solidarity with the Halt Holtec movement.

“We are very happy that San Onofre is closed,” Sharon Hoffman said.  “It is a really bad place for the waste. But that doesn’t mean that we solve the problem by moving it to a different place. We have to look at the transportation. We are talking about moving the most dangerous stuff on the planet all over the country. And if we moved it all today, we would have more tomorrow.

“So the real question here is, when are we going to shut down all these plants and stop making more waste? That’s really the problem.

“This is a beautiful place,“ she concluded. “And it might be contaminated forever. This is not something that you want to take on for the rest of the country. Yes, you can help the rest of the country. You can say, stop making this, and then let’s figure out together the best thing to do with what is left.”

“I am a stakeholder,” Ace Hoffman told the assembly. “I am from Carlsbad. Not Carlsbad, New Mexico; Carlsbad, California, which is about 15 miles as the crow flies, or the plutonium flies, from San Onofre. So it was very important to me that we do something about this waste.”

Based on his experience of the NRC’s actions during the controversy about shutting down San Onofre, Hoffman warned his New Mexico counterparts, “don’t expect anyone to be telling you the truth about what is possible or what is going to happen. And I strongly advise — even though I would love to get rid of the waste, and I would love to find a sucker that will take it — don’t be that sucker.”

From the Mouths of Babes…

But it was the little daughter of artist and prominent Halt Holtec campaigner Noel Marquez who perhaps best summarized New Mexico’s majority view that emerged from the 5 meetings held around the state on the Elea-Holtec proposed dump site.

When the moderator, Chip Cameron offered to hold the mike for her, she responded, “I can hold it myself. Thank you.”

Handling the mike with confident ease, she continued, “My name is Pakeia Marquez and I am 11 years old. I’m here on behalf of unborn kids and born kids like me. I think this whole situation is very important because it affects everything and everybody. It affects the plants and wildlife around here.

“I have recently been writing an essay about ecosystems. I read that ecosystems can be very easily poisoned through water, air, and soil. Water, if all this radiation leaks into the water, everything that’s living needs water. It’s going to suck up all of that, and it’s going to get poisoned. Who is going to, like, you know, reimburse us for it?

“You may think you might be solving a problem, but really you’re just creating more problems to solve, and they might just be forever, and you might just not be able to solve them.

“Please remember that I cannot vote,” she told the NRC officials. “So please do vote against this horrible mistake. Thank you.”

The applause was loud and long as Pakeia Marquez made her way back to her seat.

James Heddle is a filmmaker and writer who co-directs EON – the Ecological Options Network with Mary Beth Brangan. Their forthcoming documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection Pt. ! – The Case of San Onofre is now in post-production. He can be reached at jamesmheddle@gmail.com

June 8, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 8 Comments

Boycott Israel & you won’t get aid donations, Hurricane Harvey victims told

RT | October 20, 2017

Residents in a Houston suburb will not receive funds donated for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts if they support boycotting Israel, according to a funding application form issued in the wake of the devastating storm.

The city of Dickinson, Texas, told individuals and businesses on Monday that they are now accepting applications for “grants from the fund generously donated to the Dickinson Harvey Relief Fund” for storm damage repair.

In order to apply for the grant, however, applicants must agree to a number of clauses, one of which is asserting that they do not boycott Israel.

“By executing this Agreement below, the Applicant verifies that the Applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement,” read the application form.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized the city’s condition as a violation of free speech rights.

“Dickinson’s requirement is an egregious violation of the First Amendment, reminiscent of McCarthy-era loyalty oaths requiring Americans to disavow membership in the Communist party and other forms of ‘subversive’ activity,” said ACLU of Texas Legal Director Andre Segura.

The clause likely stems from a Texas law passed in May that requires all state contractors to certify that they are not participating in boycotts of Israel.

“As Israel’s No. 1 trading partner in the United States, Texas is proud to reaffirm its support for the people of Israel and we will continue to build on our historic partnership… Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies, and we will not tolerate such actions against an important ally,” said Governor Greg Abbott at the signing ceremony.

Dickinson is one of the hardest hit towns in the Houston area, according to a September report from KTRK. Some 7,000 homes and 88 businesses were seriously damaged, said the local police department. The small town is home to just 20,000 people.

RT.com has reached out to representatives of the City of Dickinson for comment.

READ MORE: US Air Force sprays Harvey-stricken Texas with controversial chemicals

October 20, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Texas’ Annual Roundup of the Working Poor

By Trisha Trigilio | ACLU of Texas | March 4, 2016

March 5th marks the beginning of the annual Great Texas Warrant Roundup. It sounds like quite a lot of fun, another cowboy extravaganza from a state famous for its stock shows and rodeos.

But what it is, in practice, is a shakedown of Texas’s working poor.

The Great Texas Warrant Roundup is an annual statewide collaboration of courts and law enforcement agencies. Their goal is to collect payment of overdue fines and fees from Texans who have outstanding warrants for unpaid traffic tickets and to arrest and jail those who can’t pay. What little press is dedicated to the Roundup focuses on praising cities for the so-called “amnesty” period that precedes it.

The state’s unreasonable traffic ticket scheme and the devastation it can wreak on low-income Texans receive considerably less attention.

Depending on the jurisdiction, a ticket for failing to signal a lane change — the trooper’s justification for Sandra Bland’s tragic traffic stop — will cost you around $66. But the state tacks on $103 in court costs and a host of fees, some bordering on Kafkaesque. Texas will charge you a public defender fee, even though courts refuse to appoint a public defender for traffic ticket cases. If your fine is already too expensive to afford, Texas charges a fee to put you on a payment plan. You’ll even pay an “administrative fee” for the privilege of handing money over to the court. For people who are too poor to pay their traffic fines, a $66 fine can balloon to over $500 because of these court costs and fees, as well as late fines and warrant fees when towns try to arrest the poor (at times illegally) to collect money they simply do not have.

If you can’t afford to keep up with these fees, the state will suspend renewal of your driver’s license (add another $30 for the License Renewal Suspension Fee), and you’ll be unable to register your car, making it illegal for you to drive to the job you need to take care of your kids and pay off your spiraling debt. An expired registration means you’re certain to be pulled over and put back at square one, with new tickets, new fines, new fees, and no hope.

Case in point: Valerie Gonzales, one of the original plaintiffs represented by the Texas Fair Defense Project in a class action lawsuit against the City of Austin. Valerie is a 31-year-old mother of five children with disabilities. She and her family live in poverty. After receiving two traffic tickets nine years ago, not only had Valerie’s tickets multiplied and her fines ballooned into the thousands of dollars, she lost a job after she was unconstitutionally jailed without the benefit of a court-appointed attorney.

When people like Valerie are arrested in the coming warrant roundup, judges across Texas will follow their usual plan of demanding a payment in exchange for liberty. Without asking questions about financial circumstances, judges literally order people to turn over all the money they happen to be holding when they are arrested. “Give me what’s in your pockets” is not a phrase that should be uttered in a courtroom. What’s worse, when the working poor don’t have enough money to hand over, judges send them to jail without a fair hearing or a second thought.

Jailing people for debt is both unjust and profoundly counterproductive. Not only does it deprive people of their liberty and separate them from their children and families, it also renders them incapable of paying off their fines and costs the taxpayer (by conservative estimates) $51 per person per day of incarceration. It’s in everyone’s best interests to keep Texans with their families and out of jail.

There are sensible alternatives. Courts can consider ability to pay before assessing unmanageable fines or waive debts for people who have made a genuine effort to pay what they can. So why don’t they?

This is what makes the roundup so nefarious. Courts are hoping that the threat of jail will frighten people into turning over whatever they can scrape together in exchange for protection from arrest. Rather than praising amnesty, we should address the systemic injustices that keep low-income Texans in perpetual debt to the state.

March 6, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Buy the Rights-Abusing Cops Lunch Says Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

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By Adam Dick | Ron Paul Institute | September 3, 2015

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick issued a statement Wednesday that says that, to counter “America’s negative attitude toward our law enforcement officers,” people should all-but grovel at the feet of any police they come across. Patrick even suggests that “financially able” individuals (who presumably are already paying cops’ salaries via taxes) pay for the lunches of any cops they may see in a restaurant.

Here is Patrick’s complete list of groveling suggestions:

Join me in changing this negative attitude toward those that protect us, by practicing the following:

Start calling our officers sir and ma’am all of the time. It’s a show of respect they deserve.

Every time you see an officer anywhere, let them know you appreciate their service to our community and you stand with them.

If you are financially able, when you see them in a restaurant on duty pick up their lunch check, send over a dessert, or simply stop by their table briefly and say thank you for their service.

Put their charities on your giving list.

If your local law enforcement has volunteer-citizen job opportunities, sign up.

Interestingly, Patrick never mentions in his statement that a major contributor to the negative attitude many people in Texas and across America have toward cops is the many times cops act in manners bereft of respect for the rights, property, health, and lives of the individuals they encounter.

How about the cops who abused Sandra Bland or Angel and Ashley Dobbs in Patrick’s home state? “Thank you sir. Thank you ma’am. Please, let me pay for that sandwich!”

While some people would say that these abusive cops are just a few bad apples, reading through articles by Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead or journalist William N. Grigg, it becomes clear that the basket contains many bad apples. The fact is that many cops are more intent on harassing, abusing, and dominating people they encounter than on serving and protecting them. Rather than disrespect for cops being, as Patrick seems to believe, some irrational, mystical belief that showed up out of nowhere, the disrespect is a logical response to the horror show of abusive cops that plays out again and again in this age of police militarization.

Though often overlooked, the war on drugs is an underlying cause of the worsening police conduct. Because the growth, manufacture, sale, transfer, and use of drugs are nonviolent and victimless activities, with no complaining victim, police have resorted to all kinds of invasive, deceptive, and destructive tactics in fighting the war. For example, the drug war has been used as an excuse for vast expansion of police practices including covert surveillance, sting operations, pretext traffic stops, asset seizures without any court hearing whatsoever, and SWAT team raids on homes and businesses. All of this is supposedly justified to protect people from themselves.

Of course, the drug war, like alcohol prohibition before it, has also spawned gangs fighting over turf. This violence, in turn, is used as an excuse for the further militarization of the police — in equipment, tactics, and mindset.

But, according to Patrick, we should be thankful for the SWAT team members who raided a home last night, pointing guns at all the suddenly awoken family members, turning the place upside down in an effort to find even a fraction of an ounce of a forbidden drug, and maybe shooting someone or the family’s pet dog to boot.

The drug war corrosion runs even deeper. Beyond the SWAT team members, there are also the undercover cops trying to snag individuals in drug sale stings, the traffic cops who make up pretenses to conduct drug searches without consent or pressure drivers to “consent” to searches, and even the desk-bound cops who handle the paperwork that allows the drug war machine to relentlessly move forward.

Patrick laments that “America’s negative attitude toward our law enforcement officers” may result in less people choosing to become cops. Yet, having less cops around can actually lead to much enhanced safety.

Let’s call off the war on drugs, its danger-enhancing police practices, and the related drug war exception to the Fourth Amendment. Let people exercise their right to grow, manufacture, sell, transfer, and use drugs as they see fit. Let the violence prohibition engenders wither. Free the drug war prisoners.

With the end of the drug war, the number of cops can be significantly reduced. Ending the war may also be the single biggest step that may be taken immediately to increase Texans’ and Americans’ respect for police.

September 4, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | Leave a comment

Dashcam Video Released in Sandra Bland Traffic Stop Shows Aggressive Abuse by Texas Cop

By Matt Agorist | The Free Thought Project | July 22, 2015

Waller County, TX — As more details emerge about the incident involving Sandra Bland, the story gets more and more suspicious. On Tuesday night, dashcam footage was released that highlights the terrible abuse inflicted on Ms. Bland for a routine revenue collection stop — for a turn signal.

According to Waller County Sheriff’s Department officials, Bland was pulled over for “improperly signaling a lane change” and charged with “assault on a public servant.” However, after watching the dashcam, it is quite clear that Bland was the only one being assaulted in this scenario.

Police claim that Bland hung herself with a plastic trash bag in her jail cell. They also claim that Sandra Bland assaulted an officer during her traffic stop. The newly released dashcam footage shows that these cops are not afraid of lying.

After Bland is pulled over for an arbitrary infraction, this abusive cop begins his assault. He starts by screaming at the young lady and then physically attacks her, attempting to yank her from the car.

The entire escalation of violence seems to be over this thug officer demanding Bland put out her cigarette. “I’m in my car, I don’t have to put out my cigarette,” says Bland just before this jackboot tyrant explodes and assaults her and threatens her with a taser.

“Get out of the car! I will light you up!”

It is quite clear who the aggressor was in this incident. If this video is any indication of what went on once Bland was in prison, it is no question why her death is being investigated as a homicide.

July 22, 2015 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Video | , | Leave a comment

New Bill Would Have Teachers Diagnose Psychological Issues in Children and Report them to Police

By Jay Syrmopoulos | The Free Thought Project | March 24, 2015

Dallas, Texas – Texas State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) is once again in the spotlight after submitting yet another Orwellian proposal, H.B. 985.

Villalba first raised the ire of civil libertarians by proposing a bill, H.B. 2006, which would have eliminated the religious exemption for vaccination, essentially creating a forced government vaccination program without exception.

More recently, Villalba was thrust into the national spotlight when he proposed H.B. 2918, which would usurp citizens of the ability to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions. The bill would negate the people’s ability to create an accurate and impartial record of police interactions by restricting citizens from filming within 25 feet of an officer.

Now with H.B. 985, Villalba intends to give school officials the authority to force psychological screenings of students that teachers and staff diagnose as having mental health issues.

Once the process is set in motion by school officials, parents would be forced to take their child to a mental health professional within 30 days, under threat of suspension of the child from school.

“ …the requirement that the parent or guardian, before the expiration of the 30-day period, to avoid suspension of the student under this section, take the student to the nearest local mental health authority or a physician specializing in psychiatry to receive a mental health screening and a certificate of medical examination for mental illness, as described by Section 533.03522(c), Health and Safety Code, that contains the examining physician’s opinion that the student is not a danger to self or others.”

While under suspension the child would still receive an education, but they would be sent to an “alternative school.”

School administrators would be required under the law to provide the student’s name, address, and information regarding the complaint to the local mental health authorities and the police department upon verification of the complaint.

(i) A school counselor or a principal who receives notice
under. Subsection (b) about a student who subsequently is subject to
a notice of intent to suspend under Subsection (g) shall:
(1) provide the student’s name and address and
information concerning the conduct or statement that led to the
notice of intent to suspend to:
(A) the school district police department, if the
school counselor or principal is employed by a school district and
the district has a police department;
(B) the police department of the municipality in
which the school is located or, if the school is not in a
municipality, the sheriff of the county in which the school is
located; and
(C) the local mental health authority nearest the
school;

Teachers have enough on their academic plates without them being forced to become armchair psychologists in the classroom.

Also, it is highly inappropriate and dangerous for unqualified teachers to play the role of child psychiatrists. Unless they’ve had special training and are certified to diagnose the disorders, it can also be illegal.

We are already witnessing the damage caused by parents believing teachers who think that every child who acts out in their classroom has ADHD. It’s called The Ritalin Explosion.

The idea that students’ personal information would be submitted to mental health facilities and police departments for complaints initiated and investigated by only school officials also causes serious concern.

Is it really necessary to criminalize kids based upon a teacher’s unprofessional assessment of a kids mental health? And what about the student that is mentally healthy, but simply defiant?

Perhaps rather than attempting to legislate away this perceived problem by criminalizing “problem” children, there is a better way. Villalba would have been better served by using his position to help create a program to build sustainable bridges of communication between parents and administrators that assist in identifying and combating mental health problems in students.

Instead, like so many tyrants before him, Villalba tries to solve complex problems using the force of the state.

March 25, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 2 Comments

Witnesses against death row grandmother admit they lied following threats from prosecutors

Reprieve | February 16, 2015

Key witnesses against a British grandmother on death row in Texas have said that prosecutors in her 2002 trial threatened or ‘blackmailed’ them into testifying against her.

Among them is the only person who claimed to have seen Linda Carty (56) carry out the murder of Joanna Rodriguez, who has now admitted that Texan District Attorneys (DAs) “threatened me and intimidated me” into identifying Ms Carty as the culprit. Christopher Robinson, who was the key to the prosecution case, admits that he never saw Ms Carty kill anyone and his testimony to this extent at trial was a lie.

Mr Robinson has signed an affidavit, filed in September 2014, in which he testifies that prosecutors “told me I had to testify at Linda’s trial to avoid the death penalty, and they made it clear what it was I had to say.” Mr Robinson adds that they “[told] me I would get the death penalty myself if Linda Carty did not get the death penalty.”

Several other witnesses at Ms Carty’s trial have also admitted they were “blackmailed” by Texan prosecutors, and lied or omitted evidence as a result.

Charles Mathis, a former Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer who was Ms Carty’s ‘handler’ during the time she worked as an informer for the Agency has stepped forward to reveal the lengths the prosecutors went to obtain the testimony they needed. Mr Mathis’ affidavit states that when he told the Texan DA that he “knew that Linda did not have it in her to kill anyone,” and so did not want to testify against her, the DA “threatened me with an invented affair that I was supposed to have had with Linda.”

“I felt that [Texas DA Connie] Spence was threatening and blackmailing me into testifying,” Mr Mathis concludes. “It struck me that Spence wanted a death sentence as a feather in her cap. She was far more interested in a death conviction that the truth.”

As a result of the Prosecutor’s threat to smear him and ruin his marriage with a fictional affair, Mr. Mathis omitted testimony regarding “misconduct during the investigation”.

The new testimony – which was unearthed by lawyers at international legal non-profit Reprieve following years of work and investigation – is currently being considered by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA). Ms Carty’s lawyers are asking for an evidentiary hearing to air this newly discovered evidence and ultimately seek a new trial.

Commenting, Clare Algar, Executive Director of Reprieve said:

“If Linda is not granted a new hearing, she faces the death penalty based on lies extracted by prosecutors desperate to secure an execution at any cost. The behaviour of prosecutors in this case has been so appalling it takes the breath away. They have stooped to targeting the marriage of one witness with invented slurs, while using the threat of death to force another to produce the lies they needed for conviction. Linda’s last hope is that Texas recognises that she deserves a new – and this time fair – trial.”

February 16, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , | 2 Comments

High-Level Rad Waste Dump Called “All Risk and No Reward for Texas”

By JOHN LAFORGE | CounterPunch | February 11, 2015

A high-level radioactive waste “parking lot” — proposed for West Texas — poses both terrible and unnecessary risks for people throughout the country — Texas in particular — and should not be built.

That’s the position of a coalition of public interest groups that declared its opposition to the plan February 9.

The proposal was announced by Waste Control Specialists (WCS) which currently operates a low-level radioactive dump at the site near Eunice, New Mexico. The plan is for WCS, and the French nuclear giant AREVA, to accept high-level radioactive waste.

About 70,000 tons of such waste fuel–other rad waste is called “low-level”– is now stored at about 70 reactor sites around the country. The waste is some of most long-lived, deadly and dangerous material known to science, radioactive for over half-a-million years.

“It was irresponsible even to generate high-level nuclear waste without a plan for how to dispose of it,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, in a press release. “It would be doubly so to ship it across the country, with no serious plan to protect it in transit or in its new temporary destination. Hiding the problem of high-level nuclear waste in West Texas doesn’t make it go away, it makes it worse.”

Diane D’Arrigo, radioactive waste project director at Nuclear Information and Resource Service, said, “Moving nuclear waste to a supposedly temporary consolidated storage place gives the delusion of ‘a solution’ when in fact it will at least double the risks and create a de facto permanent dump near one of the largest aquifers in the country.”

D’Arrigo called the plan part of an elaborate, unnecessary shell game. “WCS is really volunteering to make the US nuclear problem worse by putting the deadliest radioactive wastes from nuclear power on the same highways, railways and waterways we all use every day,” she said. The government said 20 years ago that the waste could safely be kept at reactor sites for 100 years.

“This plan is all risk and no reward for the state of Texas,” said Tom Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office. “It poses transportation and accident risks around the country. We don’t need Fukushima Freeways,” he said. […]

“The federal government has made a mess of nuclear waste policy,” said Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. “The highly radioactive spent fuel from nuclear reactors should be stored on-site, in hardened configurations while Washington sorts it out. Putting the deadliest nuclear waste on the roads needlessly increases risks.” he said.

The only plausible rationale for moving high-level waste away from reactor sites has come from those warning about tsunami risks on the West Coast, and from environmental justice advocates who note that radioactive waste is often placed — as with Xcel’s Prairie Island reactors in Minnesota — near Native American communities.

Former Texas State Rep. Lon Burnam of Ft. Worth said, “The site isn’t even dry — a minimum safety prerequisite for safe storage or disposal of radioactive waste. Recently, 22 percent of test wells at the existing low-level radioactive waste site had water present. … WCS admits the Ogallala Aquifer is nearby. What would happen if radioactive waste contaminated water that lies beneath eight states?”

Texas must not be allowed to risk answering that question. – Full article

John LaForge works for Nukewatch and lives on the Plowshares Land Trust near Luck, Wisc.

February 11, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment