Friday, February 28, 2014

Where were you in 1954?

If you are in my age group you can probably remember the drills that were carried on in our schools where we would scramble for cover by ducking under our desks. I don't think all of this traumatized us too greatly, but then again the 24-hour news cycle had not yet entered our world.

But if I think about it maybe this is the reason I am so against nuclear energy. Of course back in those days we only thought about "nuclear" in terms of bombs. Those being the ones that actually the United States would drop here and there while at the same time chanting a mantra of "No Nukes".

I do remember the fear of the Soviet Union actually bombing the United States, while we, the children of the world,  huddled for safety under our little school desks.

I think there were a great number of people who really had no idea of the dangers of "nuclear". Just like today, too many people seem to just shrug it off and take the word of others that the dangers of nuclear power are minimal. The idea that a simple school desk frame would offer much protection against nuclear fallout.

It has become our modern day fairytale. You know stories like Cinderella finding her Prince Charming. The story always has a happy ending.....

Well except for those that don't draw the "happy ending" straw.

March 1st will mark the 60th anniversary  of "Castle Bravo". I was a junior in high school and didn't have a care in the world as thousand of miles away the sky lit up with a fireball light......

60th anniversary of "Castle Bravo" H-bomb disaster, March 1, 1954

Castle Bravo was the code name given to the first U.S. test of a dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb device (the first practical deliverable hydrogen bomb in the U.S. nuclear arsenal), detonated on March 1, 1954 at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, as the first test of Operation Castle. Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the United States (and just under one-third the energy of the most powerful ever detonated), with a yield of 15 megatons, about 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima or Nagasaki atomic bombs.
A several mile-wide fireball erupted within seconds, visible 250 miles away. A Lucky Dragonfishing boat crew member described the sight as the Sun rising in the west. The crater formed was 6,500 feet in diameter and 250 feet deep. A mushroom cloud 47,000 feet high (nearly 9 miles high) and 7 miles in diameter formed within a minute. The mushroom cloud grew to 130,000 feet high (nearly 25 miles high) and 62 miles in diameter in less than 10 minutes, expanding at 100 meters per second (or 220 miles per hour).
That yield, far exceeding the expected yield of 4 to 6 megatons (due to a theoretical physics error), combined with other factors, led to the most significant accidental radiological contamination ever caused by a United States nuclear weapon test. Fallout from the detonation — intended to be a secret test — poisoned the islanders who had previously inhabited the atoll and returned there afterwards, as well as the crew of Daigo FukuryĆ« Maru ("Lucky Dragon No. 5"), a Japanese fishing boat, and created international concern about atmospheric thermonuclear testing.
The cloud contaminated more than 7,000 square miles of the surrounding Pacific Ocean, including dangerous levels of radioactive fallout over an area hundreds of miles long, including surrounding inhabited islands like RongerikRongelap (100 miles downwind), and Utirik (300 miles downwind). Downwind Marshall Islanders suffered doses as high as 200 Rems, and thus immediate -- as well as latent -- health impacts, including radiation poisoning, and later birth defects and thyroid tumors (children on Rongelap later suffered 90% thyroid tumor rates, beginning just a decade later). In 1964, the U.S. government admitted responsibility and provided some compensation.
Some attribute the radiological incident to moving Nevil Shute to write the 1957 novel On the Beach.
As described on the Wikipedia site for Godzilla, "With the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Lucky Dragon 5 incident still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a metaphor for nuclear weapons."
The American magazine Consumer Reports began warning about atmospheric bomb tests’ Strontium-90 fallout contaminating milk supplies.
The documentary film Nuclear Savage chronicles the experience of Marshall Islands under U.S. nuclear weapons testing: "a Pacific island paradise...until the United States tested nuclear weapons and conducted secret human radiation experiments. Experiments that would remain top-secret for decades..."
As Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps described in his "70 Years of Radioactive Risks in America and Japan," presented at Helen Caldicott's conference, Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident, held at the NY Academy of Medicine on the second anniversary of the beginning of the Fukushima catastrophe, the death of a Lucky Dragon #5 crew member, as well as the sale and consumption of radioactive tuna throughout Japan, outraged the Japanese people, less than 9 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Unprecedented, large protests followed. The U.S. and Japanese governments were concerned that Japan would "go communist." The U.S. CIA was deployed to Japan, to sell "Atoms for Peace" to the Japanese people, in an effort to calm the protests. The CIA recruited an agent, Shoriki, a Class A War Criminal, owner of Japan's biggest newspaper and t.v. station, to sell "Atoms for Peace" to the Japanese people. He was wildly successful. This is how the Nuclear Village, and the Nuclear Safety Myth, were born in Japan, ultimately leading to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.See Kevin's Power Point presentation, slides 12 to 16 (including the accompanying notes), for more information. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hmmm? Hope for Missouri-Made SMRs

Hope is a word I would use when talking about finding a cure for cancer, but making SMR's sound like the next best thing since sliced bread? I don't think so but here we go AGAIN.

It wasn't that long ago that I blogged about Westinghouse tossing in the towel on their joint SMR project with Ameren here in Missouri, in fact I wrote on February 4 that Westinghouse had decided to "reprioritize" their SMR project and move on.

Now the Columbia Business Journal is writing about hope for this project. Even the newly elected Callaway County Assessor is on board.
“The county is really hoping to get the new module plants,” says Jody Paschal, newly elected Callaway County assessor. “They would really increase our economic base and grow our communities even more. I think people enjoy working there, and I don’t think people feel unsafe having it in our community.”
What is it about the nuclear power people that they just can't let go despite all the negatives associated with the project. Read the article and you find the words; "hoping", "possibly" and "appear" - nothing concrete and nothing that would address my concerns for dealing with the spent fuel. I am just not so sure about this 'next generation' of nuclear technology.

Let's explore the real other options we have like wind and solar. And not the "other options" of pooled funding that is mentioned in the CBJ article.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

DejaVu All Over Again

Yanukovych Estate

"It was a tough weekend for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Anti-government protestors essentially deposed the president, issuing a warrant for his arrest. And Ukrainians  got a close look at Yanukovych’s estate, an opulent shrine to gluttony and consumerism, filled with golden toilets (allegedly), a full-sized Spanish Galleon and a huge collection of exotic automobiles." ~ Craig Fitzgerald, BoldRide
So here we go again. Is anyone really surprised? It seems every time there is a revolution and a despot is over-thrown and when the victors view the spoils the picture is always one of opulence and gluttony.

In the United States we have a slightly different breed of despots that technically work outside the government framework but so very often achieve their great wealth by stepping on the backs of the little people.

The American great and glorious gluttons take their wealth and buy their way with lobbying and campaign coffering into even greater wealth. So I doubt anyone would be very surprised at what they would see if the Wall Street barons were disposed and their skin peeled back to view what lies underneath.

The so-called Republican outrage when President Obama dares to speak of raising the minimum wage but never is there a discussion of the maximum wage. Corporate leaders screaming that having to supply workers with health insurance will break the company and at the same time ignoring the millions and millions of dollars paid in executive salaries and add on layers of fringe bennies.

Watch House of Cards - it will make you squirm, because it is so f***ing real. The mainstream media can't write about stuff like this but if you turn it into a story line for a 'fictional' television show you can get aways with tons of stuff.

Go ahead and watch it, I dare you. And after you do tell me that isn't happening here, right here in the good old USA.

I end as I began it's DejaVu all over again.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Crying for U.S. Olympian's Tax on Medals

“The only thing colder than the slopes at Sochi is the fact that any prizes awarded by the USOC will be taxed,” writes the group Americans for Tax Reform, which has calculated the federal tax that medal winners could face. ~
 Read the story here

Thursday, February 13, 2014

One Thing Leads To Another

Westboro Church is anything but Christian and its mission has nothing to do with trying to education or inform. They are a hate-filled organization similar to what you would see under the Hitler-headed Nazi regime.

The following  “good words” were taken from their hate-filled website. I want you to read first hand the venom that they spread in the name of God.

This is the price of having a society that believes in free speech, we allow the spread of this vile filth. But rather than have me summarize their thoughts, go ahead and read for yourself.

It might help you understand why the University of Missouri is not exactly happy to have them around. It is not because Westboro Baptist Church comes to “warn”, it is the words and ideas they choose to promote in their warnings that causes the uproar.

Stay strong Michael Sam and Missouri citizens stand strong. Do not allow this hatred to fester and grow in our country, state and on our Missouri campus.

# # #

University of Missouri in Columbia, MO
February 15, 2014  1:30 PM - 2:45 PM
University of Missouri football player Michael Sam (who has prospects to play in the NFL) announced to the world that he's a fag. Now the race is on to see who can fawn over him the most and make sure that everyone knows they support fag filth. Columbia, Missouri is now in an uproar, not because the media spotlight is on them for having a proud fag in their midst, but because Westboro announced their intention to come warn you.
Westboro has three words for Michael - REPENT OR PERISH!! Following his soul damning example will only lead you to hell. You can form all the counter protests, and walls you want to attempt to block our message and it won't change anything. Each one of you is our target audience, and your furor over a little bit of truth tells us you received the message. Having received this simple, blessed message, you are each without excuse for your refusal to obey God's word.
Ro 1:19  Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23  And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26  For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31  Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Source: Westboro Baptist Church – GodHatesFags website.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Michael Sam - The Real Story

Michael Sam, recent University of Missouri graduate and Mizzou football player made news this week by announcing he was gay. To me the real news are his accomplishments off of the football field. Again the New York Times writes a wonderful piece about where Michael Sam came from. It is a story that should warm your heart Before Coming Out, A Hard Time Growing Up.

The University of Missouri is where my daughter graduated from and where I now have two granddaughters in attendance. I am proud of all of them but to be honest none of them came from a background like Michael Sam, felt his hardship or had to work as hard as he did.

To read his father's comments after Michael wrote him about being gay annoys me.
"Dad, I’m gay, he wrote. 
The party stopped cold. “I couldn’t eat no more, so I went to Applebee’s to have drinks,” Sam Sr. said. “I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment. 
“I’m old school,” he added. “I’m a man-and-a-woman type of guy.” As evidence, he pointed out that he had taken an older son to Mexico to lose his virginity."
If Michael's father wasn't a blithering idiot he would realize what a jewel of a son he had. He would be bursting his buttons over all of Michael's accomplishments.

Because Michael Sam was courageous and made his announcement before the NFL draft, it will no doubt cost him. But that will be a price that he pays for being able to hold his head high knowing he is being true to himself.

Fine, Michael Sam is gay, but the real story is that Michael Sam is a survivor. He endured family tragedies and in the end prevailed. He accomplished what no one else in his family has done. He graduated from college and his football accomplishments put him in the running for the NFL draft.

Let's hope he is rewarded for his courage and not penalized for it.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Waste Is A Terrible Thing To...

There is something a bit unsettling to me about this logo, it looks so happy and peaceful. Nuclear waste is anything but that. It is interesting that discussions have picked up about what to do about nuclear waste, and that is a good thing. It can't be avoided.

I am not sure what the correct answer is going to be but we can no longer look the other way and hope it all goes away. Not with ninety-nine power facilities still in operation and five more that have waste that needs to be stored permanently.

For a long time anti-nuclear activists have talked about the need for long-term, permanent storage. And now those words are being spoken by non-activists as well. Take heed people and teach your children well for it is going to fall into their tiny hands before long. They will be the ones to make decisions for the future.

Please read this New York Times article Nuclear Waste Solution Seen in Desert Salt Beds.

"With most things nuclear, however, the politics can be trickier than the science. In the case of WIPP, there is local support but skepticism farther afield. 
Expanding WIPP, however, would require action by Congress.
Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico, a Republican, has taken what amounts to a radical position: undecided. “We haven’t made any decision on any possible future mission for WIPP,” said F. David Martin, the former head of the state’s Environment Department and now the cabinet secretary-designate for the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. “The governor wants to be assured by the science that it could be done safely.” 

Still much to be done and questions to be answered. So as I said, teach your children well, waste is a terrible thing to...

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Rinse and Spit

My blog post theme took an abrupt turn today. I was searching for an image to go with my topic - Rinse and Spit - when I stumbled upon the above work by Susan Mrosek. When I went to her website  Pondering Pool to learn a little more about the artist I fell instantly in love with her work. Now I have to go back and order some of her notecards, I feel I have uncovered a soulmate.

I think you will like her work as well, especially if you are an independent female. I feel she speaks for us. So after that little turn in the road I have lost all passion to write my ideas for my original topic, I have in essence rinsed and spit.

For now enjoy our little diversion, all that other nonsense can wait a day or two.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sochi Opening Ceremony

Sign of the times. Mr. Putin there is still work to be done. The snowflakes have spoken.

Thanks Google

Google reminds us what the Olympics is all about. I think it is time for the IOC to take some time and re-read their own charter. And while they are doing that let us wish the best to all the athlete participants.

Stay safe, be well and always strive to do your best.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New Mexico WIPP

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP, is the world's third deep geological repository (after closure of Germany's Repository for radioactive waste Morsleben and the Schacht Asse II Salt Mine) licensed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste for 10,000 years[1] that is left from the research and production of nuclear weapons.
It is located approximately 26 miles (42 km) east of Carlsbad, New Mexico, in eastern Eddy County, in an area known as the southeastern New Mexico nuclear corridor which also includes the National Enrichment Facility near Eunice, New Mexico, the Waste Control Specialists low-level waste disposal facility just over the border near Andrews, Texas, and the International Isotopes, Inc. facility to be built near Eunice, New Mexico.[2]   Source:

My friend Keith always keeps an eye out for any breaking nuclear news I may have missed. He came up with today's story coming out of the WIPP facility near Carlsbad, New Mexico. I doubt that it will make it on the nightly news. When you read this little story be aware that this waste repository deals with "plutonium-contaminated waste like clothing, tools and other debris" - we are not talking about the "big stuff", spent fuel. Just shows how very dangerous nuclear waste is even in its simplest form.

This from the New York Times, AP story:

Fire Prompts Evacuation of Nuclear Repository

CARLSBAD, N.M. — Emergency crews are battling a fire in the federal government's underground nuclear waste repository in southeastern New Mexico.
Officials say a truck hauling salt caught fire about 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M.
According to a press release and a spokeswoman who answered the emergency line, all employees have been evacuated and none of the radioactive waste has been impacted. But a press release says "multiple employees" are being taken to a hospital for potential smoke inhalation.
Emergency officials say all waste handling operations are suspended and rescue teams have been activated.
The repository takes plutonium-contaminated waste like clothing, tools and other debris from Los Alamos National Laboratory and defense projects. The waste is then buried in rooms cut from underground salt beds.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Reading Beyond the Headlines

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran an article the other day with the headline “Westinghouse backs off small nuclear plants”. My first reaction was a jump for joy and a shout of “yessss”.  But then I read the article.

Since Westinghouse and Ameren can’t seem to get the U.S. Taxpayers to join them in this venture they have decided to “reprioritize”.  The Westinghouse-Ameren SMR venture has lost out twice in their bid to get a DOE grant. Now don’t get misled folks, whenever the DOE finances a project it is with your taxpayer dollars.

It is a reality that nuclear facilities are not financially viable and companies need a “partner” that is willing to front the start-up costs. The State of Missouri was sold such a bill of goods by Westinghouse and Ameren last year when the Governor and the University of Missouri backed this project.

The project was to be only 3 to 5 SMR’s. But it was going to be the economic savior of Missouri’s suffering economy.

Now that Westinghouse-Ameren has lost out the truth of the project seems to come to light. The CEO of Westinghouse makes this little revelation:

"Unless you're going to build 30 to 50 of them, you're not going to make your money back," Mr. Roderick said.

And in the end it is all about making money isn’t is? Hmmm…

You can read the full story here.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Shiver Me Reactors

I know we are all cold and turning up the thermostats to keep warm. But I bet one thing that never crossed your minds during all of this frigid temps was your neighborhood nuclear reactors.

Yep, those babies need one critical thing to keep running smoothly and that is water.  Water is the wonder ingredient that helps to keep the reactor's core cool and prevents a meltdown. When it gets really cold like it has been recently, nuclear power facilities have to take extra measures to assure that water flowing into the reactors for cooling purposes does not freeze causing the ice to hinder operation.

Jack Frost plays havoc with U.S. nuclear power plants

Winter weather conditions in January 2014 pointed out how nuclear power plants are unreliable power generators just when communities dependent upon electricity need them the most.
Nuclear power plants completely rely upon the electric grid system to power all reactor safety systems during power operations. If the grid is unstable or interrupted, nuclear power plants shut down and are unavailable until stable grid conditions are restored. Take for example, January 21, 2014, both Units 1 and 2 at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear generating station in Lusby, Maryland automatically shut down when snow and ice caused an electrical short-circuit in a ventilation louver. The electrical power supply shorted out to reactor safety systems including motors needed to move both reactors’ control rods, a malfunction in Unit 1’s main turbine control system and the circulating-water pumps for Unit 2. Emergency diesel generators for both units started up to provide backup power and successfully shut down the reactors.  
Nuclear power plants also require tremendous amounts of water to keep the hot reactor cores from overheating during power operations and following shutdown. Ice flows getting sucked into the intake structures restricts vital cooling water to the reactor causing nukes to shut down like what happened to New Jersey’s Salem nuclear power plant in 2010.  Since the nukes have to be located on or near large water systems like rivers, lakes, reservoirs or the ocean, they also have to be protect the intake structures from ice. When these protective measures are reduced or lost, the reactors have to shut down.  This just happened on January 9, 2014 when the Fort Calhoun nuclear power station on the Missouri River had to manually shut down power production because sub-freezing weather caused an ice buildup on one of six flood protection gates preventing the gate from closing.  Fort Calhoun had just restarted after being closed for nearly three years after flood waters surrounded the nuclear power plant for weeks.
An investigation is still ongoing into whether cold weather was the cause of the 23 day shutdown of the Pennsylvania's Beaver Valley nuclear power station on January 6th when a ruptured fire suppression system sprayed Unit 1's electric transformer with water which immediately froze, failed and caused the unit to shutdown.

Here's a little bit more on the subject of water.

There was a discussion the other evening on the drought crisis facing California. The Governor, Jerry Brown, has issued a restriction on water usage in the state, but I doubt that includes the fracking** operations in his state that he endorses, but I digress. 

Southern California really is a desert environment and bringing water to the area has always been a problem and a concern, long before so very many people came to the area to live and the need for water increased even more.

The point of the discussion was that water is going to become more valuable than oil before long. And not just in desert environments like Southern California but in other previously water abundant areas.

So if you are an investor in commodities maybe water is the way to go. It is hard to imagine running out of water on a planet that has so many rivers, lakes, seas and ocean, but alas that is the case.

** Once again my friend Keith and I independently come up with similar topics.  Check him out: