Summer Quarterly 2018
England’s and Germany’s Renewables Producing More than Nuclear
In the first quarter of 2018, England’s wind industry produced a record 15,560 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity, surpassing nuclear production for the first time (by 30 GWh). Germany also hit a milestone by providing 100 percent of its electric power consumption with renewable energy for one hour on New Year’s Day, and two years ahead of schedule, Germany reached its (2020) target of increasing renewable’s share of power production to 36%.
German Reactor Phase-out: Ten Down, Seven to Go
Germany’s phase-out of nuclear power is moving ahead. The Dec. 31, 2017 shutdown of the Grundremmingen Unit B reactor was the 10th out of a total of 17 that will be retired with the last seven to power down by 2022. Grundremmingen and its still-operating twin Unit C are General Electric Mark I models identical to the three destroyed Fukushima-Daiichi reactors in Japan. Unit A shutdown in 1975.
Six More US Reactors Shutting Down
In its article “The 60-Year Downfall of Nuclear Power in the US Has Left a Huge Mess,” The Atlantic reported May 28: “Oyster Creek in New Jersey disconnects from the grid [this coming] October with 11 years left on its license. Indian Point in New York State is to shut by 2021 due to falling revenues and rising costs. In California, Diablo Canyon is being closed by state regulators in 2025. The reactor at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania that survived the 1979 accident will finally shut in 2019.” FirstEnergy Solutions has filed deactivation notices for three of its nuclear stations putting them on track for retirement: Davis-Besse and Perry in Ohio, in 2020 and 2021 respectively, and Beaver Valley in Shippingport, Penn. in 2021. However, such notices are often just a tactic used to garner sympathy from lawmakers who have secured taxpayer bailouts for the money-losing reactors.
Investments in Solar Power Outstrip Coal, Nuclear and Gas Combined
According to a new report from the United Nations Environment Program, more money was invested in photovoltaic or solar power in 2017 than in coal, gas and nuclear power combined. In addition, the world’s solar power capacity exceeded nuclear capacity for the first time—reaching 402 gigawatts, compared to 353 GW of nuclear. Electricity from wind power, which far exceeds solar/photovoltaic generation, outstripped nuclear powered electricity back in 2014, and by the end of 2017 amounted to 539 GW.
California’s New Houses Must Have Solar Electric, Hawaii’s Solar Hot Water
California is set to become the first state to require solar panels on all newly built single-family houses. The mandate is expected to save buyers money in the long run but also raise their upfront costs. The rules were adopted May 8 by state’s Energy Commission and are scheduled to take effect in 2020. The Commission said it expects the solar power initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.4 million metric tons in the first three years. Back in 2008, Hawaii became the first US state to impose energy-saving rules in new house construction requiring them to have solar water heaters starting in 2010. Solar water heaters typically cost home buyers about $5,000 extra on their mortgage, but supporters said that island residents would save thousands of dollars on their electric bills in the long run.
US Wasting Billions on Nuclear Bombs That Pose Threat to NATO – Experts
German Foreign Minister Calls for Ouster of US Nukes from Germany
Dismantling the EPA: 700 Flee Agency As Trump Nixes Regulations, Enforcement
2nd US Delegation to Join Peace Actions at German Air Base that Hosts US H-Bombs
By Leona Morgan
Spring Quarterly 2018
The Albuquerque-based Nuclear Issues Study Group (NISG), formed in June 2016 “To Protect New Mexico from All Things Nuclear.” NISG came together in response to the lack of young organizers, young activists, and people of color at the forefront of nuclear issues affecting New Mexico. We live in a state that is targeted by the nuclear/industrial complex and we see this as environmental racism. We are primarily concerned about new threats of uranium mining, weapons modernization, and nuclear waste dumping, while many long-standing issues remain unaddressed. We emphasize the need for a new way to reach out to young people, with a focus on recruiting a new generation of New Mexicans to get involved in resisting every level of the deadly nuclear fuel chain.
The co-founders, Eileen Shaughnessy and I, wanted to bring the perspectives of a more diverse and younger population to the decision-making table of national organizing against nuclear proliferation. Eileen started a class within the Sustainability Studies Program at the University of New Mexico (UNM) called “Nuclear New Mexico”—now in its 7th semester. The class gives students an honest history of nuclear colonialism in our state, as well as a pathway into activism. I have more than a decade of experience organizing against uranium mining on indigenous lands. Between the two of us, we’ve been able to tap into a wide network of resources and support to start NISG.
In December 2017, we held our first major event, an educational gathering called “Dismantling the Nuclear Beast: Connecting Local Work to the National Movement.” The symposium featured over 60 organizers, artists, and student presenters, and welcomed more than 200 attendees from across the country. We heard directly from indigenous leaders, organizers, and community members impacted by various stages of the nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining and milling, to bomb building at Los Alamos and Sandia National labs. Down-winders of the Trinity bomb blast in 1945, and students from Ukraine and Japan—places devastated by nuclear disasters—presented as well. We also had guests from the East Coast and the Deep South who are confronting nuclear reactor and radioactive waste issues. (Videos available on YouTube.com.)
Since then, we have been steadily focused on resisting the proposed Centralized “Interim” Storage, aka “CIS” of high-level radioactive waste in the area. NISG proudly participated in the 2018 New Mexico Legislative Session, helping to educate legislators about the threat of CIS and asking them to intervene on the issue. Currently, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is processing an application from Holtec International to build a CIS facility between Carlsbad and Hobbs, a “temporary” dump that would hold all of the nation’s waste uranium fuel from commercial nuclear reactors for up to 120 years. In a collaborative effort, NISG worked with UNM students, New Mexico activists and organizers, the SEED Coalition from Texas, and legislators on a letter urging the NRC to slow down the licensing process and allow more time to thoroughly study how this facility and waste transport could impact New Mexico. In total, 21 representatives and nine senators signed on to this letter! Along with local community members, we will present the letter and our concerns at this spring’s public hearings to show how, collectively, we believe that nationwide waste transports and dumping on New Mexico are injustices that must be addressed on local, state, and national levels. We will continue to work toward stopping additional radioactive waste from being created in our state, as well as keeping it from being transported and dumped here.
—Leona Morgan works with the Nuclear Issues Study Group in New Mexico.
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for its successful effort to establish the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Peace, disarmament, and civil society groups around the world celebrated the announcement and congratulated ICAN for its landmark treaty accomplishment.
“[ICAN] is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic [health and environmental] consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons,”stated the Nobel Committee.
ICAN called the prize “a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who, ever since the dawn of the atomic age, have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face of our earth.” By employing grass roots organizing and ordinary citizen diplomacy, ICAN, with Nukewatch among its 468 partner organizations from 101 countries, has permanently stigmatized nuclear weapons and their possessor governments, and helped move the world closer to their eventual elimination.
By outlawing all aspects of the Bomb’s possession and use, nuclear weapons join a growing list of prohibited devices that “kill or wound treacherously,” including biological weapons, chemical weapons, poison gas, land mines, and cluster bombs. The new ban treaty was concluded on July 7 when 122 United Nations member states voted in favor of its adoption. Since Sept. 20, 53 individual heads-of-state have signed the treaty, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Goes to Nuclear Abolitionists the first step in a government’s process of ratification which is decided by individual national parliaments. It will enter in force 90 days after at least 50 countries have ratified it.
Mexico’s senate voted unanimously Nov. 28 to ratify the treaty. The United States, the most powerful opponent of the ban, called the treaty negotiations “unrealistic,” and the US ambassador to the UN, Gov. Nikki Haley, led a boycott even though the talks were required under an explicit mandate (Art. VI) of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, signed and ratified by the United States in 1970. Although the UN boycott led by the United States flies in the face of decades of presidential promises to seek “a world without nuclear weapons, the US, UK and France said in a joint statement in July, “We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.”
The Nobel committee’s choice appeared to directly confront the obstructionism by the US and the eight other nuclear armed states. As the Nuclear Threat Initiative noted, “The award was seen as a rebuke to nuclear weapons states and their allies who oppose the treaty.”
The ban treaty prohibits developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, possessing, stockpiling and deploying nuclear weapons, transferring or receiving them from others, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, allowing any stationing or deployment of nuclear weapons on national territories of signatories, and assisting, encouraging, or inducing any of these prohibited acts. And it requires each signatory state to develop “legal, administrative and other measures, including the imposition of penal sanctions, to prevent and suppress” the prohibited activities.