This Week’s Featured Interview:
The Idaho National Laboratory – a major Department of Energy site in the nuclear complex – has appeared in stories about waste and submarines and a smattering of other issues, but it’s never been a real focal point on Nuclear Hotseat… until now. We learn details of the site and the decades of activist pushback for clean-up by talking with three members of the Snake River Alliance, which serves as Idaho’s nuclear watchdog and clean energy champion. We spoke on Friday, February 4, 2022:
- Beatrice Brailsford grew up on a ranch in southern Idaho, graduated from Cornell University, and taught at the University of Idaho. She started volunteering with the Snake River Alliance in 1987 and retired from her position as its program director in 2019. During those years, the Alliance helped stop construction of nuclear weapons plants at the Idaho National Laboratory and across the DOE complex, helped limit shipments of nuclear waste to Idaho, and was a leading advocate for cleanup of nuclear contamination at INL.
- Leigh Ford is a 4th generation Idahoan and both her grandfathers worked at the Idaho National Laboratory. Now, she serves as Executive Director of the SNAKE RIVER ALLIANCE.
- Amy O’Brien was a professional dancer who performed on Broadway, was a member of Twyla Tharp’s Company, choreographed for and toured with Mikhail Baryshnikov and his White Oak Dance Project. She serves on the Board of the Snake River Alliance and is a member of the Days of Action working group for the Nuclear Ban Collective, which was formed after the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force on January 22, 2021.We spoke on Friday, February 4, 2022
LINKS from the Interview:
- Beatrice Brailsford on the history of INL: OUR RADIOACTIVE BACKYARD
- International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN): New report on Schools of Mass Destruction.
- ICAN University Pledge
- Nuclear Blues:
Numnutz of the Week:
Nothing like getting your nuclear information from a former Brazilian model with a “non-profit” that does not show up anywhere as a non-profit.
- Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is hiring!
- Also Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Doomday Clock remains at 100 seconds to midnight.
When is a nuclear cleanup, not a nuclear cleanup. If you listen to the government, their usual response to citizens telling them to clean up your radioactive mess is what radioactive mess or oh bad. It’s not a problem. Or if it is a problem, we’ll take care of it. Eventually don’t go getting your knickers in a twist, otherwise known as their, their Missy. Don’t worry your pretty little head about it. And at every radioactively contaminated site in the country, and there are a lot of them, even once they’d been declared Superfund sites in need of cleanup, the results are usually underwhelming. That’s why when you listen to a 30 year veteran of safety and cleanup battles at the Idaho national laboratory, and she talks about what it took for the government to quote unquote, clean up the contamination in the land and the water. And she tells
The political establishment of Idaho representing all the people in Idaho who used the water and quite frankly, citizen activism from the sneaker reliance bed to a very successful cleanup program here in Idaho. The flip side of that though, is that INL will remain contaminated until the end of time. There is no final solution for the nuclear waste that hit the water, hit the ground. There will always be nuclear contamination there.
Well, if that’s what a successful cleanup looks like and Beatrice Brailsford, the retired chair of the snake river Alliance, who’s been fighting for cleanup and she knows you get yet another view of the true nature of that dangerous seat that we all share
Clear hot seat. What are those people thinking? Clear, hot seat. What have those boys been breaking their hot seat? Ms. Sinking, our time to act is shrinking, but Hotsy, it’s a bomb.
Welcome to nuclear hot seat. The weekly international news magazine, keeping you up to date on all things nuclear from a different perspective. My name is Leiby Halevi. I’m the producer and host as well as a survivor of the nuclear accident at three mile island from just one mile away. So I know what can happen when those nuclear so-called experts get it wrong. This week, we take a look at the issues and actions at the Idaho national laboratory at 890 acres. It is two-thirds. The size of Rhode Island has contained 52 nuclear reactors and is the nation center for nuclear energy research and development along with being a designated site for internationally produced nuclear waste disposal. And it’s right over the second largest aquifer in the country. We’ll talk with three members of the snake river Alliance, Idaho’s nuclear watchdog and clean energy champion, retired chair, Beatrice Brailsford, executive director, Lee Ford and board member Amy O’Brien.
We will also have nuclear news from around the world numb that’s of the week for outstanding nuclear bone headedness, and more honest nuclear information then will make its way into the Superbowl halftime show. All of it coming up in just a few moments today is Tuesday, February 8th, 2022. And here is this week’s nuclear news from a different perspective, starting out in the U S in Massachusetts, where the attorney general of that state Maura Healey issued a statement saying that the dumping of radioactive water from the Pilgrim nuclear power plant is prohibited specifically. She said, quote, the facilities permits prohibit the discharge of spent fuel pool, water and wastewater generated by the decommissioning process into Cape Cod bay. And we expect Holtec to abide by those rules in a meeting last November, between decommissioning from Holtec and the nuclear decommissioning citizens advisory panel, or N D cap, the company revealed that it was planning to release this radio active water into Cape Cod bay, as opposed to other options, including evaporation, where it goes into the clouds and comes back down in the rain and trucking it offsite to a disposal facility, most likely at the Idaho national laboratories.
And we’ll hear more about that in today’s interview only after intense pushback by the public and protests by the fishing community has Holtec pledged not to release any of the water into the bay in 2022. What this ultimately points to is the fact that there is no good, effective, lasting, and safe way to rid oneself of radioactive materials. Once they have been contaminated, radioactive waste is also a focus in New Mexico where a bill that would ban the storage or disposal of nuclear waste material in the state is working its way through the Senate. Senate bill 54 would also present the state from issuing permits to private companies for the construction of a high level radioactive waste facility. And it’s no surprise that the company that is trying to build the high level radioactive waste facility is Holtec state Senator John Boucher, who supports the bill, said the potential for accidents puts workers, residents, and the oil and waste industry at risk. The bill now moves on to its next committee. And another story that ties into today’s interview, we’ve just learned that radioactive soil in Australia is being excavated and shipped to a waste disposal facility in Idaho. The approximately 1900 tons of contaminated soil would be shipped to USC colleges, Grandview operations in Idaho. The facility received nearly 110,000 tons of radioactive waste in 20, 20, 90 6% of which came from outside of the state or the country. And if that’s not crazy enough for you,
I think more than 75 scientists, academics and entrepreneurs sent a letter to California, governor Gavin Newsome, urging him to find a way to keep the Diablo canyon nuclear facility open citing it’s being carbon free, clean yada yada, and all of them are following the lead of a Brazilian fashion model and tick tock influencer who until six months ago knew nothing about nuclear. Yes, it’s Isabel. again known for her bizarre hair and makeup choices, as well as exposing copious amounts of flesh. I guess it’s not hard to get the men to follow her. What’s really interesting about this overblown promo piece in the San Louis, a biz pole newspaper, which lards every mention of nuclear energy with the word clean is that the letter to Newsome was sent by quote, the nonprofit foundation saved clean energy. Here’s the problem. There’s no trace of a nonprofit called saved clean energy anywhere in a Google search. So when is a nonprofit, not a nonprofit, maybe when it’s just the hobby of the ex wife of a gazillionaire, by the way, has created the online persona for herself under the name ISO dope. And let’s just put the emphasis on the second syllable there because you Isabel bowl Mickey and all the string bikini followers who signed onto that letter to governor Newsome. You are this week’s,
Over to Japan, where there is currently a major battle over children’s thyroid cancer levels on January 27, 5 former prime ministers who are truly concerned about the future of Japan sent a letter to the president of the European commission entitled nuclear, and carbon-free excluding nuclear power from the EU. Taxonomy is possible. Taxonomy is the official classification that allows for nuclear to be given funds that are earmarked for sustainable genuinely carbon free energy to combat climate change. A firestorm of official pushback has ensued triggered by a statement in that letter that quote many children are suffering from thyroid cancer and quote, February 3rd prime minister Filmio casita criticized that statement as inappropriate citing what is referred to as a fact, but as simply an oft repeated talking point by quote unquote experts saying that quote at this point, it is difficult to believe that this is an effect of radiation.
The next day, February 4th, environment minister, Sue Yamaguchi set letters of protest to all five former prime ministers accusing them of spreading false information about the health effects of radiation on children in Fukushima prefecture that same day, the governor of Fukushima Uchi blurry. Marcel sent his own protests letter to the five former Japanese prime ministers. Again, citing a panel of quote unquote experts commissioned by the prefecture that says that there are no links that have been established between thyroid cancer cases and radiation exposure note that it is an undeniable scientific fact that pediatric thyroid cancer, which was said to occur in only one or two children per million people per year before the Fukushima nuclear accident has increased in Fukushima prefecture in the 11 years, since the accident with 266 cases in the Fukushima prefectural health survey and 27 cases in other surveys for a total of at least 293 cases of thyroid cancer in Fukushima children.
So it’s clear that in the opposition to this statement by the five former prime ministers, they can’t dazzle with their brilliance. They will baffle people with their bovine feces. We’re working to get Joseph Ben Ghana, an epidemiologist familiar with these issues on next week’s nuclear hot seat to discuss this battle of children’s thyroid cancer information in Japan, in Spain, that countries ecological transition minister to race. The Roberta said that the European commission has made a big mistake in labeling nuclear and gas as green investments. She charged that this decision requires a clear legal analysis before any action can be taken by the EU. In the meantime, pointing out that in France, 30% of nuclear facilities are inoperative due to problems. Instructors that have been in operation for decades in China, state owned China national nuclear corporation assigned a contract in Argentina to build an $8 billion nuclear power plant reviving a deal that had been stalled for years.
Argentina’s government said in his statement that the $8 billion will go for engineering instruction, acquisition, commissioning, and delivery of the reactor and states that it will have an initial useful life of 60 years though. All previous nuclear reactors built have only initially claimed 40 years for their operational life in Ukraine with Russia, having more than 130,000 troops massed on that country’s border. And the United States already sending 3000 soldiers into that country. The Ukrainian national guard is preparing its troops by staging urban combat exercises in Pripyat the ghost town evacuated after the Chernobyl accident and in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. The country claims that this training situation is safe because before it started workers with Geiger counters scammed the route to check that there were no radioactive hotspots that ignores the fact that radioactivity from anywhere within the exclusion zone can be moved by wind rain, snow, and blowing Duff from plants Ukraine’s defense minister states that invasion by Russia through Belarus is unlikely because quote, this area is very hard to get through forest swamps rivers.
And don’t forget that still since the disaster there remains some highly radioactive areas on the route from Belarus. He did not point out that that could include the town of Pripyat, where his soldiers are currently staging. We’ll have this week’s featured interview in just a moment, but first we’re coming up on what I call nuclear anniversary alley six weeks that mark the anniversaries of the three worst nuclear reactor disasters to date Fukushima on March 11, three mile island on March 28 and Chernobyl on April 26. These are not benign dates to be passively noted. They are dog whistles to the nuclear industry to unleash their PR hounds of hell the hacks and paid flunkies their goal to the media, with their lies about nukes being green, safe, the cure for climate change, blah, blah, blah. The few honest articles or op EDS that those opposed to nukes might be able to get out.
There are immediately slammed with paid naysayers and bots meant to drown out the anti-nuclear voices. As a result, the ordinary citizen hears the hypnotic drone of new books are good and fall, right in line. Well, programmed to parrot surgically implanted talking points that drown out common sense, opposition to this deadly technology. And that is why you need nuclear hot seat. It’s why we’re here to cut through the financially backed pro-nuclear shills and their talking points. So you get to find out what’s really going on in the nuclear world and what you can do about it. We help you know how to stand against the pro-nuclear tsunami. That’s coming up with facts, perspective, credentialed authorities and footnotes. And we don’t wait for anniversaries to get the word out. Nuclear hot seat provides fresh information every week, but we can’t keep going without your support. That’s why right now is the time to go to nuclear hotseat.com, click on the big red donate button and follow the prompts to help us with a donation of any size.
Please do what you can now and know that however much you are able to help. I’m deeply grateful that you’re listening and that you care. Now here’s this week’s featured interview in 10 and a half years of doing nuclear hot seat. I’ve covered us government nuclear sites around the country from Trinity and church rock and New Mexico to the Manhattan project sites in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Hanford, Washington, and back to New Mexico for the Los Alamos national lab. But the one site that with few exceptions seems to have alluded. My attention is the Idaho national laboratory. Yes, it has appeared in stories about radioactive waste and nuclear submarines and a smattering of other issues, but it’s never been the real focus on the show until now the snake river Alliance serves as Idaho’s nuclear watchdog and clean energy champion by inspiring, educating and advocating for and with their fellow Idahoans.
We have three representatives of the group on the show this week, Beatrice Brailsford grew up on a ranch in Southern Idaho, graduated from Cornell university and taught at the university of Idaho. She started volunteering with the snake river Alliance in 1987 and retired from her position as its program director in 2019. During those years, the Alliance helped stop construction of nuclear weapons plants at the Idaho national laboratory and across the DOE complex helped limit shipments of nuclear waste to Idaho and was a leading advocate for cleanup of nuclear contamination at INL Lee Ford is a fourth generation Idaho, and, and both her grandfathers worked at the Idaho national laboratory. Now she serves as executive director of the snake river Alliance. And Amy O’Brien was a professional dancer who performed on Broadway, was a member of Twyla Tharp’s company choreograph for and toured with Mikhail Baryshnikov at his white Oak dance project. She serves on the board of snake river Alliance and is a member of the days of action working group for the nuclear ban collective, which was formed after the treaty for the prohibition of nuclear weapons entered into force on January 22nd, 2021. We spoke on Friday, February 4th, 2020 to Beatrice Brailsford Lee Ford and Amy O’Brien of snake river Alliance. Thank you so much for joining me today on nuclear hot seat.
Thanks so much for having us. We’re really excited to be here.
You know, we hear little bits and pieces about the Idaho national laboratory when a story comes up in the news, but it’s not on a consistent basis. And there really isn’t a context for this, including on my own show. I’m as guilty as anyone for providing the context of what the Idaho national labs are, what they do, what’s going on there and the consistency of your problems. So let’s take care of the basics first. What is the Idaho national laboratory and what goes on there? Beatrice, I know you’re greatly skilled in this. Why don’t you take it to start?
The Idaho national laboratory is the second largest site in the department of energy complex. It covers 890 square miles of Idaho’s high desert plain it’s in the Eastern part of the state. It sits at the base of some beautiful mountain ranges. It is a desert. And in fact, all of Southern Idaho is a desert. So sometimes people think that maybe it’s a wasteland, right? It is not. People have lived on the high desert, plain, right, where I N L is for more than 13,000 years. So it’s a very valuable place. One of its deepest values is that underlying the high desert plain is the snake river aquifer and the snake river a lot aquifer ranch, really from border to border in Idaho, it holds at least as much water as lake Erie. It is the source of Idaho. It’s very vibrant agricultural community. It is the reason that people can live here.
Unfortunately in 1949, the department of energy looked around and said, well, yes, there’s water. And yes, there’s a wasteland there too. So they came to Idaho and established the Idaho national laboratory. It has over time had four missions. The first mission for which it was established was reactor research. The United States had started its nuclear endeavor by building a nuclear bomb. It wanted to cover the other end of the mission by building nuclear reactors for nuclear power as well. So we became the reactor research station. Over time. We have had 52 nuclear reactors built at Idaho. Anything called a reactor, anything that has a reaction can be called a reactor, but some of the very large, they have been some run to destruction, a lot of reactors for all sorts of different missions for the army. So that was one mission
1949, when INL was founded. That’s where the start of the manipulation happened to blur the lines between atomic bombs and nuclear energy. It was like a rebranding process that was going on for the industry itself. Yet there is a direct connection between nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. Lee, could you explain that to me,
They’re always trying to separate themselves from the weapons industry, but they’re intimately connected for instance, the new reactors. These so-called advanced reactors that the industry is proposing mostly run on Hailu fuel, which has high assay, low enriched uranium and reprocessing of fuel to create this fuel is one step away from weapons, grade, creating new waste streams and the reprocessing, just getting so close to being able to create weapons with it is dangerous.
Going back to the connection between weapons and power. They’re both radioactive is the fundamental connection, but I think certainly the, the United States began its nuclear endeavor, building weapons, making the material to explode a weapon plutonium, which is used in nuclear weapons is produced in a nuclear reactor and the nuclear reactor can be making power at the same time. It can be only run to plutonium. Historically, my understanding is that Russia began its nuclear power work before the United States and Mr. Eisenhower wanted very much for the United States to embrace the peaceful quote unquote, that was the impetus for the government moving into nuclear power research and development.
I ano is in Idaho, which is a landlocked state, but yet, and has become the focal point for the development of the nuclear Navy. How did that take place? And when was that started,
INL was such a large site that it attracted a number of nuclear missions very early on. One of which was the nuclear Navy, that propulsion program for the Navy to build nuclear ships. So the nuclear Navy came to Idaho and the prototype reactor for the USS Nautilus. The very first nuclear powered vessel was built at the Idaho national laboratory. And then as the Navy started the program of actually launching the boat itself here in Idaho, we mapped the whole voyage across the Atlantic and you know, worked out the bugs. The bugs for the very first nuclear powered ship were worked out here in Idaho. Now what that meant unfortunately, is that then all of the nuclear Navy’s waste ended up here as well. So even today in 2022 nuclear Navy spent fuel comes to Idaho
About rebranding. The nuclear industry is definitely doing a rebranding right now. They’ve jumped on the climate crisis as its new pet project. It is seeing an opportunity in the climate crisis because I think the industry is threatened. Now there’s no solution for radioactive waste. They rely on taxpayer money and government handouts. So they are trying to be the answer to climate change and disregarding the whole nuclear fuel cycle and the carbon intensity that goes into uranium mining and milling and processing shipping, storing it’s carbon free, you know, to them and it’s clean. And so they’re really trying to propagandize. It is clean. It’s frustrating.
I like to point out that when the nuclear industry says that its technology is carbon free, it’s the same as taking a sheet of steel drilling, a tiny pin hole through it, squinting through it at seeing only the moment that the actual atom is split. That’s the only thing they’re looking at. But if you widen the view and look at anything on either side from, as you said, uranium, mining and transport and milling and processing and all the rest all the way through to what do we do with the waste? All of that is carbon intensive, but they have controlled the conversation so that it’s narrowed down to just that tiny pinhole. And unfortunately it’s being bought.
It is it’s frustrating. And we do need to get the message out that it is not clean. It’s not renewable. Austria is suing the EU from what I’ve heard about calling nuclear clean. I don’t know how it can be called clean, but we’re definitely on not on agreement. This definition
Define the word claim, right? So let’s get this back to INL Beatrice. You said that there were four different missions. It was given. I think we’ve covered the first two of them. What are the others?
The third mission was nuclear weapons, waste disposal. And that was, you know, it became right within a couple of years of INL founding. We started receiving waste from other places. So over the years we built a number of waste disposal or storage sites in Idaho. And those first three missions, the nuclear reactor research, the nuclear Navy building training reactors here in Idaho, and then most certainly nuclear waste disposal from the weapons project led to a lot of contamination here in Idaho as did the fourth mission before we got to clean up reprocessing. And again, that’s the link between nuclear weapons and nuclear power. We began reprocessing for the weapons program in the early fifties, took, spent nuclear fuel. You know, you dissolve it in acid, you pull out the plutonium. The only thing we use plutonium for is nuclear bombs. They also pulled out the highly enriched uranium from spent nuclear fuel.
The highly enriched uranium from the fuel was sent to Oak Ridge and Oak Ridge used it to make nuclear fuel for the production reactors at Savannah river. You know, there was this circular thing going on all over the country involving as many places as it needed to involve both from a scientific perspective and probably from a political perspective as well. But at any rate, we got enormous quantities of nuclear weapons waste from Rocky flats, Colorado. All of that waste was contaminated with plutonium. We created our own waste streams from reprocessing. So those were the two dirtiest things that I and L did all in all. There were more than 50 reactors built here in Idaho of various shapes and sizes and missions. And it caused a lot of concern within the state. As people learned more and more about what was happening. So the snake river Alliance was formed by a handful of people.
They met in a Boise park in 1979. There was one little group that was concerned about nuclear power. Another little group was concerned about nuclear waste. They joined and we have been working ever since to address the problems at INL learned very early on that the problems that INL were intimately connected with other nuclear problems across the country. And so, you know, the department of energy has it’s web. And so do the activists who are working to try to stop nuclear activities from going forward at any rate. The first four missions at INL really did lead to a robust cleanup program. That’s partly because the sneaker reliance was there. We were pushing to protect the drinking water of hundreds of thousands of Idaho ons. We were pushing always for cleanup
89, the Idaho national labs were declared a Superfund site. What did it take to get it there, to that declaration? What was determined, needed to be done? And how has it progressed thus far?
I think it took knowing that our water was threatened and just mass mobilizing around protecting our water. We are an agricultural state we’re in the desert. That water is vital to our existence. And water is very important in the west. What it meant when the INL area became a super fun site, was that it was going to finally get the attention that it deserved from the federal government and that the waste would finally get cleaned up. We were hoping. So I think that was the beginning of the recognition that there was a problem and it needed to be solved
After INL became a super spun site. INL established probably one of the most successful cleanup programs in the DOE complex. It has been remarkably successful, partly because of citizen pressure and politicians pressure. We have been very fortunate in having governors who expressed the concern of their fellow Idaho and about the threat to Idaho’s water and how devastating that would be. So I think over time, the political establishment of Idaho representing all the people in Idaho who used the water and quite frankly, citizen activism from the sneaker reliance that led to a very successful cleanup program here in Idaho. The flip side of that though, is that INL will remain contaminated until the end of time. There is no final solution for the nuclear waste that hit the water, hit the ground. There will always be nuclear contamination there in addition, and I think this is leading into Lee’s concern about what the future holds.
If our state and nation embraced nuclear power. One of the reasons Idaho’s cleanup program has been so successful is we have moved a lot of the waste someplace else. That’s the story of nuclear cleanup here in the United States. That’s all you can do once it’s there, it’s there. So a lot of the ways that we have dug up or the reactors that we have torn down have ended up in, in new dumps here in Idaho, we already have one dump that holds half a million cubic yards of waste. We will build another half a million cubic yard dump to contain what still being torn down, dug up and moved. We have sent 60,000 cubic meters of waste contaminated with plutonium to whip
Whip, being the waste isolation pilot plant, which is in New Mexico.
It’s licensed for waste that contains plutonium. That’s its fundamental thing, but we have sent waste to Nevada and we have kept a lot of waste here, but contained maybe a little bit better than it was before. So I think the thing that watching the DOE complex should teach anyone who’s considering nuclear power is that once it’s there, it’s there until the end of time, plutonium remains hazardous for a quarter of a million years.
There are now plans for new reactors to be built at INL part of the movement towards small modular nuclear reactors, which are always referred to as small modular reactors. They forget the N word in the middle, but I always put it in. How far have these plans progressed and are they a done deal? Can they still be stocked? What is the current situation? There,
There are a number of so-called advance, small modular nuclear reactor projects intended for INL. One that we call the dirty dozen was a 12 small modular nuclear reactors that was going to be built by new scale. And most of the power would go to Utah. They’ve maybe buckled under pressure or lack of finances, but now they’re proposing six or a four-pack. There was a reactor from a California based company called Oklahoma. That was just denied. It’s licensed to start in Idaho because of a lot of information that they left out of their application. Of course they’ll reapply. That’s the expectation. The department of defense has plans to build a mobile micro reactor. So there’s a lot coming at us and building these reactors obviously creates more waste. And since we’ve already put all this money and work into cleaning up waste over our sole source, drinking water, then why are we creating more for ostensibly to curb climate crisis? But it won’t do anything it’s still too slow and too dirty. It’s not going to make a difference.
Hauling nuclear green or clean are just two of the semantic atrocities that are committed by the nuclear industry and that they get away with. So often, what is the connection between the halloo the fuel and these small modular nuclear reactors?
Well, it’s funny, there’s another rebranding that, that the nuclear industry is trying to do with reprocessing. They’re now calling it recycling. So if you hear that, that’s what that is. It’s reprocessing. So, so Hailu is this high acid, low enriched uranium, which is enriched up to 20% and the most of these reactors will be using high essay low-enriched uranium right now, Russia is the only place that has Hailu insignificant amounts. And as you know, from the news, our relationship with Russia is not the best terms right now. So there are proposals to start making Hailu in the United States. Like I said, it produces more waste streams. It’s highly dangerous, very expensive, and it poses real security questions. As far as, you know, if there’s going to be a black market for uranium or hate Lu. So it’s, it’s a real concern and, and really just creating more waste. There is just no point in spending all this money when we have better, faster, safer, cleaner alternatives,
Beatrice, you sometimes refer to small modular nuclear reactors as smores. What do you mean by that
Unit of electricity? Small modular reactors create more problems than even large reactors per unit of electricity. It creates more nuclear waste. They use more water and they cost more money. You know, it’s just a misnomer to call the small, the word, small cans to minimize any problem that these reactors could cause. But these reactors have all the same problems that power does. They’re just endemic in the technology.
What actions has snake river Alliance been taking with these not only consistent dangers and problems, but with this new welling up of focus on the small modular nuclear reactors,
Small modular reactors, our campaign right now is to get out the education to let people know that these are too dangerous, too expensive, and they’re not the answer to climate change. They cost way too much money. Specifically. Our audience in this area in the inner mountain west is focused on economy and the economics of nuclear. And they do not pencil out. We’ve gotten together with heal Utah and some others to create a website that talks specifically about the small modular nuclear reactors that new scale wants to construct over. INL there’s a lot of information about how this is actually an industry that is heavily dependent on federal welfare and taxpayer handouts, and that it is not sustainable.
I noticed in your email Lee, that you always stayed at the bottom, that you are located on Shoshone and bannock traditional lands. What, if anything has been the involvement in the support from the tribal people in your area,
In my eyes, this is their land and they do not support nuclear waste going through their land on their tribal lands and being stored there. Beatrice has worked more with the Shoshone bannock tribe than I have personally, but I know that they have done several actions to stop shipments from coming through their land, but they are opposed
What has been the media coverage in the state.
The media coverage for small modular reactors in the state has been positive. Our Congressman Simpson has mentioned replacing the four lower snake river dams with technology from small modular reactors, that he is a Congressman from Eastern Idaho. And, you know, he represents the people that work at INL and I’m sure he means to support that, but it is not in our, all of our best interests. So the media coverage has been pretty pro INL as it is. We are an industry state Eastern Idaho is an industry area, and there’s a lot of support for INL and the small modular reactor coming in there. But it’s our job to educate people, to let people know that this is not going to help us. This is just going to make things worse. And this is going to cost us money, which is, I think what the people in Idaho would oppose most
Naik river Alliance is not involved just with the issues at INL and in Idaho, but also reaches out to the rest of world is deeply involved with the treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. Amy, what is being done by snake river in connection with the TPN, w
We are part of a nuclear ban collaborative that came out of some of the actions that happen all across the world and all across the country. When the treaty entered into force last year on January 22nd, 2021, because there was such a ground swell of action. The nuclear ban collaborative was formed at that point, out of all these different grassroot organizations, people that have been working for decades in this anti-nuclear push the nuclear ban. Collaborative is comprised of people from all over the United States. And so the snake river Alliance, we jumped in and were part of, one of the working groups. We have four different working groups that work to uplift the treaty and spread the news that nuclear weapons are moral and illegal. Now, the days of action working group, we provide resources to organizations and people all over the United States so that they can make their voices heard.
It includes principal banners that say nuclear weapons are illegal. We have letters to the editor that you can write. You can insert your organization’s name. We have information on the treaty available, and we’ve actually even written a song. One of my songwriting partner, Ralph Hutchinson, from Oak Ridge environmental peace Alliance. It’s based on the iconic video that Bob Dylan did for the da Pennebaker documentary. And it’s the subterranean homesick blues, but we’ve changed the words. And we basically kind of spell out all the things that are in the treaty and that we’re letting people know that the United States still has nuclear weapons. We have bombs, we are still working on modernization. And then we also talk about all the nine nations that are armed and dangerous still, and still have the weapons and refuse to sign the treaty. That’s one of the things, the days of action working group has been working on
This is the song nuclear blues, which is part of a video that was done by snake river Alliance. Thank you very much, Amy, for facilitating that and helping that get going. And we will be playing that song on this episode and probably in the future, because I thought it was one of the easiest ways to run down everything that was wrong with nuclear. My jaw kept dropping because the rhymes were great and the information was perfect. So we will be playing that at the end of this program on our way out. What other impulse is there out there for perhaps some more artistic or creative ways of getting the information across? So we’re not out there lecturing and hectoring people to understand this very difficult.
I know it is a hard one and I feel like art is one of the easier ways to deal with really painful and awful subject matters. And PE you know, it can be a graphic. It can be, you know, like you said, a song. So yeah, the days of action working group, we were working on a lot of different ways to elevate the treaty with arts. And I’ve been wrangling in a lot of my artist, friends that we’ve been working with anti-nuclear themes, things that happened at Rocky flats, things that happen in Idaho, the connections between those. And so there’s a, there are a lot of resources with artists that have been working in this field for a long time. So that’s one of the things that we’re working on. And there have been some really amazing art installations and exhibits that have happened around the world. There’s a really good one in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the moment, but it’s indigenous artists that have been creating work based on a nuclear warfare nuclear horror that has happened, where they are located. I would highly recommend that. And you can find that online
If anyone does have any artwork or any art exhibits or videos or music or anything, I always want to hear about it. [email protected] is where to send the email. Now, the snake river Alliance has had many positive achievements through the years. Can you tell us about just a few of them
Are getting new scale to cut the reactors from 12 to six? Like you said, these are small modular nuclear reactors, but they pack them together to make it a huge area.
I refer to small modular nuclear reactors as nuclear Lego’s. That’s what they’re trying to make it sound like it’s just little pieces fit it together.
Right? Exactly. A couple of years ago, we stopped some transuranic waste from coming from Hanford and our don’t waste. Idaho. A campaign was 2019. I think.
Well, we have stopped all told I think three big projects, the specialized stoked strips, separator, the specialized, the plutonium we’ve stopped a couple of new production reactors. Those again were weapons plants. I think we were the leading voice in Idaho that stopped the shipments of nuclear waste into Idaho long enough for the people here and across the country to sort of come up with a recognition of how often nuclear waste is moved someplace else so that the people getting some of the benefits don’t have to think about the perils so much. There have been just extraordinary. You know, when Lee mentioned the Riva plant that would have enriched uranium, always, always the nuclear industry is looking for a soft spot to put a new project. So for years and years, it was weapons projects for years and years, it was where are we going to dump this stuff?
We were the leading voice, certainly the most active voice standing on train tracks to stop spent fuel from coming into Idaho that certainly protected Idaho spent fuels still comes in, but it’s in a very regulated kind of way, but we showed people all across the country that a there was danger and that they should learn about what was happening in their own backyard. I think we have helped stiffen the spine of Idaho politicians so that there is no way, well, okay, now I’m going to have to backtrack because we have, I think there is political support for new reactors here. I and L is a billion dollar gift to Eastern Idaho. What you learn is that you have to face the same challenges over and over fight the same fights over and over, but that people, you know, were reasonable human beings. And if people learn about the perils of the nuclear endeavor, they by and large respond, not immediately because it does look like, you know, it’s always been portrayed as the answer to so many things. And so then you have, you know, New York times reporters not maybe reporting the whole thing, the upside and not the downside, but I think we’ve had, I think the secret reliance has been remarkably successful, particularly given where we are. We have protected a beautiful place, and it’s been my pleasure over the decades to see our activism and our activists such as Amy and Lee, reach out to other places to feed our power and energy in and in turn to bring that home to us,
There is an excellent one sheet for anyone who wants to take an action called the power of one, because really that’s how this thing changes. It changes one person, one action at a time who put this together and how is it available?
This was put together by the nuclear ban collaborative, primarily the days of action committee. And it’s a resource that people can use to make a difference and let your government know how you feel about weapons and that they’re immoral and illegal.
Are you familiar with the program out of the Netherlands don’t bank on the bomb?
Yes. Don’t bank on the bomb is part of our resources. We have another working group called localities and legislator looks lectures, and they use a lot of the information from there and also have some information about schools of mass destruction. So you can also look up schools that have been funding, nuclear weapons projects, and find out if your university is a part of that or not. And there’s a pledge that you can take and that’s online as well.
My first degree was from the university of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana Illinois, and that’s a huge nuclear campus. I’ve done what I can there, but they don’t want to hear it. No. However, what it takes is one voice at a time, one letter at a time, one phone call at a time, one presence at a time, one railroad track at a time to make a difference that hopefully will be a lasting one, not only for ourselves, but for future generations as well, because that’s what we’re in this for. None of us will ever see the full result of our actions, but if we can get things in motion and move them down the line and just keep the persistence and bring other people in behind us to carry it on, there’s a chance. And that’s all we can hope for. Anything. Any of you want to say in closing
Theater, and I do want to thank you so much for engaging in this conversation and in this struggle,
This is Lee. Thank you so much for having us on. I am so happy for the opportunity to talk about Idaho, how beautiful it is here and how our water is our life. And we want to protect it. Thank you. This is Amy. And I just wanted to let you know that I’m a huge fan of your work. And what you’re doing is very important. This hot seat is very hot.
That was Beatrice Brailsford, Lee Ford and Amy O’Brien of the snake river Alliance. Idaho’s nuclear watchdog and clean energy champion. We will have lots of links up on their material, on the website to the snake river Alliance, to the international campaign, to abolish nuclear weapons list of schools of mass destruction. Alas. My first Alma mater university of Illinois is right there and a pledge you can take to stop them. It’s a great cornerstone for creating an on-campus movement. We’ll have the video of Beatrice Brailsford explaining the history of INL called our radioactive backyard, a video of nuclear blues. That’s the song that we were talking about along with lyrics. So you have a fighting chance of singing along because it really fast and a one sheet, the power of one with tips on how any one of us can take small manageable steps to have an impact on the world. Links to all of this will be up on the website, nuclear hot seat.com under this episode, number 5, 5, 5, right?
If you’ve ever thought about working professionally and making your living doing work, that spreads accurate information about nuclear matters. This is your chance. The bulletin of the atomic scientists is hiring. There are more than half a dozen positions available from support staff and editing to CFO. Clearly the group is expanding and when it comes to honest, accurate nuclear information, including the yearly update on the doomsday clock, this would be a great group to join. You can check them [email protected] and we will also have a link up on the website, nuclear hot seat.com. This episode is number 5, 5, 5, and a reminder that with the March 11th, 11th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster coming up, we can all expect mainstream media to be flooded with articles and reports that are pushing nuclear and stomping on any kind of alternative perspective. So the time to start writing and sending in your op-eds your letters to the editor articles, if you happen to be a reporter and getting the phone in numbers for radio and making a list of the call in numbers for radio talk shows that take calls from people now would be the time to do it in preparation.
We’ve got Marshall Leben as Fukushima’s anniversary, March 28 for three mile island and April 26 for Chernobyl. All of them will be media hotspots. So let’s get our voice in and herd by prepping in advance. Next week, I’ll have links to some places you can go to find sample wording that you can use in what you’re going to write. Let’s plan on being active, not reactive. This has been nuclear hot seat for Tuesday, February 8th, 2022.
Going out with the recording of nuclear blues lyrics by Amy O’Brien of the snake river Alliance, Ralph Hutcheson of Oak Ridge environmental peace Alliance, music, vocals, and recording by Curtis Stigers. The recording will be posted on our website material for this week. Show has been researched and compiled from nuclear-news.net, Dylan renard.wordpress.com beyond nuclear.org nears.org. The international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, or I can w.org public news service.org Provincetown independent.org, K R Q e.com. San Louis obispo.com 3 1 1 support.net gg.com necon-jendai.com. Our planet-tv.org, asahi.com. You’re active.com reuters.com daily saba.com LA progressive.com in stick media.com the bulletin.org and the ever captured in compromised by the industry. They are supposed to be regulating nuclear regulatory commission. If you’d like to make certain you don’t miss a single episode of nuclear hot seat and get it hot off the grill. It couldn’t be easier just to go to the website, nuclear hopsy.com.
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no matter what the fish is on the phone, got something to say, lose the nuclear weapons that as a way.