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When the sky fell to earth via Republik

By Joshua Wheeler (Text) and Reto Sterchi (Photos), 16.10.2021

Hundreds of twinkling lights, five hundred brown paper sacks with candles in them, luminarias around the mound and spilling out into the base paths and a family of three with singing bowls on the infield grass, the biggest singing bowls I’ve ever seen, like singing buckets between their legs and them dragging mallets along the glass rims to make the air drone, for hours the air drones as one by one the luminarias are extinguished by roving figures in the dark. And when another wisp of smoke from a smothered wick dissipates, then we are done remembering, for this year, one more victim of the Gadget, the Manhattan Project’s crowning achievement at Trinity, the world’s first atomic explosion on July 16, 1945, right here in Southern New Mexico.

Up in the press box a trio of announcers takes turns reading pages of names of all the people in the Tularosa Basin who have died of cancer caused, they say, by radioactive fallout from the first breath of the atomic age. For hours, name after name like the slow grind of a macabre graduation ceremony. So then this is how the Gadget’s blast fades: after a flash of heat ten thousand times hotter than the surface of the sun, after a blast reverberating windows for a hundred miles, after lifting as much as 230 tons of radioactive sand mixed with ash into a mushroom cloud over seven miles high, after seven decades. And still the blast echoes here at the baseball field as another name is called and another flame extinguished in remembrance of someone dead from cancer caused, they say, by the world’s first atomic bomb.

[…]

Nothing but a goddamn gadget.

Just toying with the nauseous joy of physics.

Henry Herrera sits up in his lawn chair next to the bleachers and says, “the thing went off and the fire went up and the cloud rose and the bottom half went up that way.” He gestures over my head toward first base. “But then the top part, the mushroom top started coming back this way and fell all over everything.” He waves both his arms back toward us and all around us, big swoops of old, thin, and crooked arms over his head like he might be able to accurately pantomime an atomic blast or like he’s invoking its spirit or just inviting the fireball to rain down again so the rest of us can really understand.

Henry’s sort of a celebrity in this crowd, one of a handful of folks around Tularosa still living who actually witnessed the Gadget’s blast, a guy who’s beat cancer three times already and says he’ll lick it again if he gets the chance. I’ve heard him repeat his story, word for word, to anyone who will listen, for years now. He sits next to me, fiddling with the pearl snaps on his Western shirt, petting his white hair down in back behind his big ears, telling the tale in spurts, little stanzas between long gaps of pondering, those rests of silent reflection that never stop growing as we age, like ears, like I guess all our really old storytellers have big ears and the will to ride a lull for as long as it takes until an aphorism or anecdote has marinated on the tongue and is ready to serve. He serves one up: “I’ll bet ten dollars to a donut your momma never blamed you for the atomic bomb.”

[…]

Nobody ever thought much of a bomb going off because bombs were always going off over at the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range since our Second World War began, but this explosion was different.

“It was huge and after a few minutes comes this little filmy dust,” Henry says. “Fine dark ash just came down and landed all over everything. Momma’s clothes hanging out there turned nearly black, so she had to wash them over again. You talk about a mad Mexican.” He laughs at the thought of his momma’s face, seeing all her whites turned to grays, screaming, “what the hell did you explode out here, Henry?”

So that’s the story of how Henry’s momma tried to blame him for the atomic bomb.

“It’s funny until you know we was drinking it and eating and everything else.”

“But we didn’t know that for years.”

“Not really until we started dying.”

Henry intertwines his tale of the Gadget with tales about being in the military 10 years after Trinity, touring Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the war because he’d become obsessed with what he’d seen as a kid – “night turned to day, like heaven came down” – and he needed to see also what the Bomb had done to our enemies, and he surely saw it all: the complete devastation, the rubble and ash and shadows stuck to walls and “just imagine all those families,” he says.

[…]

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Sister Megan Rice, Fierce Critic of U.S. Nuclear Arsenal, Dies at 91 via New York Times

Sister Megan Rice, a Roman Catholic nun who was arrested more than 40 times for protesting America’s military industrial complex, most spectacularly for breaking into one of the world’s largest uranium storage sites, died on Oct. 10 at the residence of her religious order in Rosemont, Pa. She was 91.

Her order, the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, said in a statement that the cause was congestive heart failure.

Sister Rice was a leading figure among antiwar activists, especially the cohort of nuns and priests who saw protesting nuclear weapons as part of their religious calling.

She was already 82 when, in 2012, she and two other antinuclear activists, Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli, hiked through the night over a steep ridge to the outskirts of the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

[…]

They served just two years and were released after an appeals court vacated the sabotage convictions — though Sister Rice said she would have gladly stayed in prison longer.

“It would be an honor,” she told a reporter for The New York Times soon after her release in 2015. “Good Lord, what would be better than to die in prison for the antinuclear cause?”

The episode at the nuclear complex was just one of many efforts by Sister Rice to take on the American military, a career that led to some 40 arrests — even she lost count — going back to the 1980s. And it was the capstone to a life steeped in progressive Catholicism.

Megan Gillespie Rice, who pronounced her first name MEE-gan, was born on Jan. 31, 1930, in the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan, to a family deeply involved in the Catholic progressive movement. Her father, Frederick Rice, was an obstetrician-gynecologist, and her mother, Madeleine Newman Hooke Rice, was a homemaker who later received a doctorate in history from Columbia.

Both of her parents were active in the Catholic worker movement and were close friends with its founder, Dorothy Day, who Sister Rice remembered visiting her family’s home in Morningside Heights.

Morningside Heights, home to Columbia University and venerable religious institutions like Riverside Church and Union Theological Seminary, was fertile ground for Sister Rice’s religious awakening. Father George Barry Ford, a leader in New York’s civil rights movement, preached at Corpus Christi Church on Columbia’s campus, where her family worshiped, and ran her elementary school.

During World War II, Sister Rice heard rumors about another side of her community: the professors from Columbia who were working on a top-secret government project. Its nature was revealed on Aug. 6, 1945, when the Americans dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, and dropped another on Nagasaki three days later.

She recalled her mother thanking God for the attack; it meant that her uncle, who was to be part of the invasion of Japan, would now be spared. He went anyway, in the first wave of soldiers to reach Hiroshima after Japan surrendered, and he told her about the horrors he had encountered.

[…]

“Sister Megan’s only regret about Y-12 was that she didn’t do something like that earlier,” said Carole Sargent, the author of the forthcoming book “Transform Now Plowshares: Megan Rice, Gregory Boertje-Obed, and Michael Walli.”

The complex shut down for two weeks, and Sister Rice’s incursion spawned Congressional hearings, where representatives thanked her for calling attention to the site’s poor security.

“That young lady there brought a Holy Bible,” said Representative Joe Barton, Republican of Texas. “If she had been a terrorist, the Lord only knows what would have happened.”

It was not the response Sister Rice was hoping for, but it didn’t stop her. After her release, she continued her antiwar activism, joining regular demonstrations outside the White House and the Pentagon.

Spending on nuclear weapons, she said in a 2019 interview, is “one of the root causes of, say, poverty in the United States, and therefore of crime.”

“It’s a root cause of many other issues because so much money is going into them,” she said.

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To Avoid Armageddon, Don’t Modernize Missiles—Eliminate Them via The Nation (Portside)

Daniel Ellsberg and Norman Solomon

The single best option for reducing the risk of nuclear war is hidden in plain sight. News outlets don’t mention it. Pundits ignore it. Even progressive and peace-oriented members of Congress tiptoe around it. And yet, for many years, experts have been calling for this act of sanity that could save humanity: Shutting down all of the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Four hundred ICBMs dot the rural landscapes of Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Loaded in silos, these missiles are uniquely—and dangerously—on hair-trigger alert. Unlike the nuclear weapons on submarines or bombers, the land-based missiles are vulnerable to attack and could present the commander in chief with a sudden use-them-or-lose-them choice. “If our sensors indicate that enemy missiles are en route to the United States, the president would have to consider launching ICBMs before the enemy missiles could destroy them. Once they are launched, they cannot be recalled,” former Defense Secretary William Perry warns. “The president would have less than 30 minutes to make that terrible decision.”

The danger that a false alarm on either side—of the sort that has occurred repeatedly on both sides—would lead to a preemptive attack derives almost entirely from the existence on both sides of land-based missile forces, each vulnerable to attack by the other; each, therefore, is kept on a high state of alert, ready to launch within minutes of warning. The easiest and fastest way for the US to reduce that risk—and, indeed, the overall danger of nuclear war—is to dismantle entirely its Minuteman III missile force. Gen. James E. Cartwright, a former vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had been commander of the Strategic Command, teamed up with former Minuteman launch officer Bruce G. Blair to write in a 2016 op-ed piece: “By scrapping the vulnerable land-based missile force, any need for launching on warning disappears.”

But rather than confront the reality that ICBMs—all ICBMs—are such a grave threat to human survival, the most concerned members of Congress have opted to focus on stopping new ones from taking the place of existing ones. A year ago, the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $13.3 billion “engineering and manufacturing development” contract for replacing the current Minuteman III missiles with a new generation of ICBMs named the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent. […]

The same Congressman Smith said less than a year earlier, “I frankly think that our [ICBM] fleet right now is driven as much by politics as it is by a policy necessity. You know, there are certain states in the union that apparently are fond of being a nuclear target. And you know, it’s part of their economy. It’s what they do.”

Senators from several of the states with major ICBM bases or development activities—Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Utah—continue to maintain an “ICBM Coalition” dedicated to thwarting any serious scrutiny of the land-based weaponry. Members of the coalition have systematically blocked efforts to reduce the number of ICBMs or study alternatives to building new ones. They’re just a few of the lawmakers captivated by ICBM mega-profiteers. […]

“First and foremost,” former Defense Secretary Perry wrote five years ago, “the United States can safely phase out its land-based [ICBM] force, a key facet of Cold War nuclear policy. Retiring the ICBMs would save considerable costs, but it isn’t only budgets that would benefit. These missiles are some of the most dangerous weapons in the world. They could even trigger an accidental nuclear war.”

Contrary to uninformed assumptions, discarding all ICBMs could be accomplished unilaterally by the United States with no downside. Even if Russia chose not to follow suit, dismantling the potentially cataclysmic land-based missiles would make the world safer for everyone on the planet. Frank von Hippel, a former chair of the Federation of American Scientists and a cofounder of Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security, wrote this year: “Eliminating launch on warning would significantly reduce the probability of blundering into a civilization-ending nuclear war by mistake. To err is human. To start a nuclear war would be unforgivable.”

[…]

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U.S. mayors urge Washington to give nod to U.N. nuke ban treaty via The Asahi Shimbun

A hugely influential group of mayors in the United States unanimously adopted a resolution calling on Washington to embrace the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) as a step toward finally ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

The call was made by the United States Conference of Mayors in reference to the treaty that took effect in January with the aim of working toward the complete elimination of nuclear arsenals.

The nonpartisan body, which represents more than 1,400 cities with populations of 30,000 or more, is part of the “Big Seven,” a group of organizations that represent local and state governments in the United States.

The U.N. treaty bans the development, retention and use of nuclear weapons. It has been ratified by 56 countries and territories. But the nuclear powers, the United States included, have not ratified the treaty. Nor has Japan, which relies on the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” for it ultimate defense.

The resolution urged the U.S. government “to consider reversing its opposition to the TPNW and to welcome the treaty as a positive step toward negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on the achievement and permanent maintenance of a world free of nuclear weapons.” 

The resolution was adopted at the conference’s annual convention held at the end of August. It is not the first time for the conference to adopt a resolution with the same broad aims. In fact, it has done so since 2004.

While the resolution has no legal binding power, it sends a clear message to the U.S. government and the people of America.

Frank Cownie, the mayor of Des Moines in Iowa, proposed the resolution with seven others.

According to Cownie, two mayors initially expressed opposition to the treaty during a committee debate on international issues.

But after making a minor amendment, the resolution was unanimously adopted at a board meeting attended by more than 20 mayors that was held during the annual convention.

“Most American people are unaware of the TPNW, and this resolution we hope can help inform them,” Cownie told The Asahi Shimbun during an online interview. “I don’t think that they understand the threat of nuclear weapons.”

[…]

Yuki Miyamoto, a professor at DePaul University in Chicago whose work centers on nuclear discourse and environmental ethics, called the resolution significant, saying it illustrates increased awareness of the nuclear weapons issue among mayors.

Miyamoto noted that numerous grass-roots movements have forced policy changes that brought about reform in the United States.

Des Moines is one of more than 8,000 cities that consist of Mayors of Peace, an NGO that aims to abolish nuclear weapons. The organization is headed by Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui.

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「核廃絶は私たちから」 全米市長会議、核禁条約への歓迎を決議 via 朝日新聞

 米国内の人口3万人以上の1400を超える都市で構成する全米市長会議が、米政府に対し、1月に発効した核兵器禁止条約を歓迎し、核廃絶に向けた即時行動を求める決議を全会一致で採択した。決議は「核禁条約への反対を撤回するよう検討し、核兵器のない世界の実現に向けた合意形成への前向きなステップとして歓迎するよう呼びかける」としている。

 あらゆる核兵器の開発や保有、使用などを禁じる初めての国際条約である核禁条約は56の国と地域が批准しているが、米国などの核保有国は参加していない。8月末の年次総会で採択した決議はこのほか、米国の核軍備を近代化させる計画を中止し、そうした財源をインフラ整備や貧困問題、気候危機などの対応に充てることも求めている。

[…]

もっと読む。

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核のごみ、突然問われた港町 決断前の「重苦しい雰囲気」の意味 via 毎日新聞

世界が頭を抱える難題を問う選挙が近づいてきた。岸田文雄首相の下で初めて実施される衆院選ではない。原発の使用済み核燃料から出る高レベル放射性廃棄物(核のごみ)の最終処分場選定に向けた文献調査が進む北海道寿都町で21日に告示される町長選。無害化するまで「10万年」といわれる「核のごみ」を受け入れるか否か。人口わずか2800人の港町が揺れている。

20年ぶり選挙戦に

 札幌から車で3時間。寿都町中心部にある飲食店に入ろうとすると、店頭の看板に目がとまった。「『核のごみ』の最終処分場選定、町長選に関連する展示物や配布物の設置はお断り」。住宅街にも「建設絶対反対」などと書かれた看板が設置されており、ピリピリした空気が漂う。

警察署や原子力発電環境整備機構(NUMO、ニューモ)の事務所がある通りに移動すると、核のごみ問題に絡む看板類は見当たらない。静かな町の雰囲気が保たれていた。昨年9月に発足した反対派の住民団体「子どもたちに核のゴミのない寿都を!町民の会」の共同代表を務める三木信香さん(49)は「それだけしがらみがあって自分の気持ちを出せないということだ。町長選があるとは思えないくらい、町は静かだ」と話した。

 町民の会は同10月、調査応募の賛否を問う住民投票条例の制定を求め、署名活動を実施し、町に直接請求した。「『核のごみには反対だけど、署名はできない』という人もいた。ママ友たちと会っても、核のごみ問題には一切触れてはいけない空気が流れている」。三木さんはこう話し、重苦しい町の雰囲気に眉をひそめた。

(略)

文献調査に伴い、町と周辺自治体には2年間で最大20億円の交付金が落ちる。片岡氏は「いま財政は逼迫(ひっぱく)していることはないが、将来も安泰とは限らない」と主張。将来の支出に備えて交付金を基金に積み立てる考えを示している。一方、越前谷氏は「古里の自然はお金では買えない、お金と比較することのできないものだ」と批判。交付金に頼らない町づくりと調査撤回を訴える。

(略)

19年の寿都町議選の結果をみると、今回の町長選で片岡氏を支持するとみられる町議5人の得票数(計1182票)は、反対派とされる町議4人の得票数(計757票)を上回る。単純比較で言えば、片岡氏の優位に見える。片岡氏は全国の自治体として初めて風力発電を誘致するなど、その行政手腕を高く評価する声もある。

 しかし、片岡町政を支えてきた勢力にも地殻変動が起きているようだ。関係者によると、従来は片岡氏支持だった保守系の産業5団体のうち、水産加工業と観光業の2団体が「反対」に回った。5団体の一つ、漁業協同組合は片岡氏支持とみられる複数の町議の出身母体だが、阿部茂樹専務理事は「個々の組合員が決めることだ」と話しており、投票先を自主判断に委ねるスタンスだ。

(略)

強まる町民の反対

 町民の反発も根強い。昨年10月には片岡氏の自宅に火炎瓶が投げ入れられる事件が発生。函館地裁は先月、現住建造物等放火未遂と火炎びん処罰法違反(使用)の罪に問われた男に懲役3年・執行猶予4年の有罪判決を言い渡した。

 町民の会の三木さんは「これ以上、町を分断させないためにはあまり騒がない方がいいような気もする」と打ち明ける。ただ、「子どもたちが将来、この問題に巻き込まれたらかわいそうだ。活動をやめて後悔したくない」とも話し、反対運動を続けていく考えだ。

 地震や火山活動が活発な地震大国の日本で「核のごみ」を長期間安全に地層処分できるのか。13日には道内の地質学者らが寿都町について「地質的特徴から不適地だ。今後10万年の地殻の挙動を予測し地震の影響を受けない場所を選定するのは、今の地質学や地震学の水準ではできない」などとする声明を発表した。

(略)

ただ、寿都町は財政規模に対する借金返済の割合を示す「実質公債費比率」が12・5%と、道内全179市町村で22番目に悪い。ふるさと納税や風力発電の売電収入に頼る財政運営を強いられている。片岡氏は「文献調査に応募したからといって最終処分場ができると決まったわけではない」とも述べており、第2段階の調査に進む際は住民投票を実施する考えを示している。

 越前谷氏の陣営の関係者は「核のごみの受け入れに反対でも交付金だけはもらいたい。そう考えている人もいる」と指摘。10万年後ではなく、足元の町の財政を見据えた交付金欲しさの思惑も透ける。

(略)

 経産省が複数候補にこだわる背景には、過去の「苦い経験」(経産省幹部)がある。07年に高知県東洋町が全国で初めて文献調査に応募したものの、町長選で反対派の候補が勝利して撤回。選定手続きは振り出しに戻り、行き詰まった。国は15年、自治体からの応募を待つ方式から、自ら主導して地域に協力を求めながら選定手続きを進める方式に転換。17年、安全性を科学的に検討して適地の可能性がある地域を示した全国地図「科学的特性マップ」を公表し、複数の候補地を探るようになった。

 選定が遅れれば遅れるほど、別の問題が深刻化してくる。既に核のごみは国内で約2500本生じており、日本原燃の「高レベル放射性廃棄物貯蔵管理センター」などがある青森県六ケ所村で1995年から受け入れ、保管している。県、六ケ所村、日本原燃が結んだ協定は、受け入れから「30~50年後」に搬出すると明記しており、遅くともあと24年で県外に持ち出さなければならない。

(略)

フィンランドは唯一、バルト海に浮かぶオルキルオト島で16年から処分場の建設作業に入り、20年代の操業を予定する。日本のようにプルトニウムを再利用のために取り出す「再処理」をせず、使用済み核燃料をそのまま深さ400メートル超の地下に埋設し、10万年にわたって保管する「直接処分」となる。スウェーデンも20年、処分場建設予定地に選定されたフォルスマルクがある自治体議会が、受け入れることを議決した。

 一方、米国は02年に一度ネバダ州ユッカマウンテンを最終処分地にすると決めたが、09年には州の反対を受けて当時のオバマ政権が中止を決定。トランプ政権は一転して計画継続を模索したが、バイデン政権の現在に至るまで目立った動きはない。ドイツは70年代からゴアレーベンを候補地として探査活動をしていたが、10年の凍結期間を経て13年に終了。振り出しに戻っている。中国やロシア、フランスなどは寿都町が受け入れた文献調査より先の「概要調査」「精密調査」の段階に入っている。【高山純二、岡田英、岡大介】

全文は核のごみ、突然問われた港町 決断前の「重苦しい雰囲気」の意味

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【写真ルポ】日本の電力供給源を歩く〈前編〉via JBPress

原発の街〈大間・六ケ所・東通り〉

橋本 昇

(略)

一般の町民までもが「ダメダメ、話す事はなんもねぇー」

 青森県大間町は今は高級マグロで全国的に有名だが、以前は「死に来た半島」などと揶揄もされた下北半島の先端の小さな漁村だった。津軽海峡の曲がりくねった海岸線をひたすら走り、幾つもの山間を抜けてようやく辿り着いた大間には春の花タンポポが咲き乱れていた。漁港からすぐの高台に建設中の「大間原発」が見えた。大間原発はMOX燃料を燃やす原発として核燃料サイクル担い手として期待されていた。

しかし、この町では原発の話はタブーのようだ。町民たちは原発の話を切り出すと誰もが途端に顔色を変え「ダメダメ、話す事はなんもねぇー」と逃げるようにその場を去って行く。

「この町に突然、原発誘致の話が持ち上がったのは俺がまだ子供の頃だ。その頃はみんな貧乏だったのが、漁師たちは皆で反対したよ。そりゃー威勢がよかったよ」

 港のすぐ近くに住むという男性がやっと重い口を開いてくれた。

「だが電源開発さんはあの手この手を使ったらしい。畑仕事の手伝いまでしてね。飲み代ただの飲み屋を開いたり、豪華温泉旅行なんて接待もあったらしいよ。札束も飛んだろうし、それで反対派を切り崩したんだな。俺は子供だったからおこぼれなんか回ってこなかったけどね」

(略)

原発に反対する者は「村八分」

 あさ子さんの抵抗の証として建設予定地の真ん中に建てたログハウスに移り住んで反対運動を続ける娘の厚子さんに話を聞いた。

「福島の事故が起きた時、やっぱり恐ろしい事が起こった、取り返しのつかない事が起こった、と思いました。ここの人達も改めて恐さがわかったはずなのに、誰も何も言いません。ここでは原発に反対する人間は政策に異を唱える不届き者なんでしょ。完全に村八分になっていますけど、私はここを絶対離れません」

 この「あさこはうす」は全国の反原発運動のシンボルとなっている。しかし厚子さんに気負いはない。

(略)

一方の原発容認派の意見も聞いた。皆、「名前も顔も一切出すな」という条件付きだ。

 漁港の見える高台の公園のベンチに座っていた男性は、

「今更原発をやめろと言って何になんになる。半島の果ての果ての町じゃ、産業といっても漁があるだけだ。しかもマグロなんて『獲れたらなんぼ』の博打のようなもんだ。みんな貧乏なんだ。原発の協力金で町の予算も潤う。原発関連の仕事もある。店も飲み屋もみんな助かるんだ。何が悪い! 町が潰れてもいいのか!」

 と気色ばんだ。

「もう後戻りはできないんだから」

 別のマグロ漁師はこう語った。

「初めは原発に反対だったよ。だが、漁業補償で俺たちの生活は確かに良くなった。問題はこれからだ。冷却水を海に流したら潮に敏感なマグロは来なくなるかもしれん。だから補償金は有り難い。人様から文句を言われる筋合いはないよ」

 そう話す誰の顔からも複雑な思いが伝わって来た。複雑なだけに語気は強くなる。

「大間の海は豊かだった。昆布だけでも充分生活はできていた」

 という人もいた。その豊かな砂浜は原発誘致で消えた。

「もう後戻りは出来ないんだから。仕方ないんだ」

 そう話す彼の言葉の奥に、町民の負った小さくはない心の傷を感じた。

(略)

六ヶ所村もひと昔前は典型的な寒村だった。多くの村民が冬は出稼ぎに出、若者は仕事を求めて都会へと村を去った。

 だが、初めて訪れた六ヶ所村にその頃の面影はなかった。ぐるりと村を取り囲む広い道路、造成中のニュータウン、立派な温泉スパ。村の住宅も殆んどが比較的新しく、余裕ある生活が窺える。

(略)

そうして90年代に入った村ではウラン濃縮工場、低レベル放射能廃棄物センター、高レベル放射能廃棄物貯蔵管理センターが次々と完成し操業を開始した。鳴り物入りで登場した「プルサーマル計画」の一翼を担う使用済み核燃料再処理工場とMOX燃料工場の建設も進められた。

 確かに村は豊かになった。税収は4倍近くまで増え、交付金で道路や村の施設が整備された。農業や漁業、人材育成等への助成金も潤沢に用意されている。原燃や関連企業に働き口も出来た。

(略)

実際、原発事故の直後だというのに、拍子抜けする程地元の人の「核燃料サイクル施設」に対する信頼は揺らいでいなかった。

「正直、不安がないかと言えば嘘になるけど反対するつもりはない。核の肥溜め村と言われながら、日本中の原発のゴミを引き受けているんだ。どこかが引き受けなきゃならんだろう」

 とFさん(57)は声を強めた。

 地元反対運動を続けている女性は核燃料に頼らない村つくりを訴えている。

「再処理工場が稼働するととんでもない量の放射性物質が空気中にも海中にも放出されるんです。これ以上危険な事はやめて欲しい。自然に根ざした産業で村を活性化しなくては若い人の村離れは止められません。現状では村には原子力関連の仕事しかないのだから」

 女性の話には説得力があったが、住民の多くはむしろこのまま原子力事業がストップしてしまう事の方に不安を抱いていた。

(略)

「事故は怖いと思うが、明日から路頭に迷うわけにはいかない」

 とFさんは言った。

(略)

原発建設が前提のシナリオ崩壊で疲弊する東通村

 一方、六ヶ所村の隣の東通村は少し様子が違う。同じような開発に名乗りを上げ、原発を誘致したが、今、村は財政赤字に苦しんでいるのだ。確かに原発誘致決定後、村は様変わりした。1975年に国道が開通、1988年の村政100周年には地上5階、地下1階という立派な村役場が建設された。その後も建設は続き、考えうる限りの箱物が村に建てられていった。

 実際村を歩くと大学かと見まごう中学校、木の香り豊かな老人介護施設、総ミラー張りの火葬場、とまさにゆりかごから墓場までの充実ぶりだ。

 中でもひときわ目を引くのは村役場の隣に立つ「村議会議事堂兼交流センター」だ。村の人はこの建物を「鉄人28号」と呼ぶ。これらの施設は電源三法交付金や電力会社の寄贈によって建てられた。村はまずは施設を整備し、そして住民が満足するリッチな村へと変貌を遂げるはずだった。

(略)

「もう原発も村もどうしようもなんねぇな。村も金のもらい癖がついちまって、一人歩き出来ないんだろうし」

 そう言うと男性はまた、黙々と昆布拾いを続けた。

「お金より仕事より命がずっと大事」

 と、六ヶ所村で反対運動を続ける女性は言い切った。

 しかし、経済という大きな渦に呑み込まれている私達にとって、そう言い切ることはたやすいことではない。

 取材を続ける中で「都会という大量消費社会から〈原発への不信〉だけを首からぶら下げて取材に行くことに驕りはなかったか?」という自問が生まれていた。

全文は【写真ルポ】日本の電力供給源を歩く〈前編〉

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Australia Picks A Nuclear Waste Disposal Site – Now The Dance Begins via Forbes

James Conca

Australia’s Federal Resources Minister, Keith Pitt, has declared that the national nuclear waste storage facility will be at Napandee, near Kimba, on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. The choice was widely expected as the government had already picked Napandee as its preferred site.

When one hears that a country has picked a Nuclear Waste Disposal Site, the first thought is high-level waste or spent nuclear fuel. But most nuclear waste disposal sites in the world are either for low-level or intermediate-level nuclear waste and many countries have them. Although incredibly safe, they seem to generate as much controversy as the higher-level ones.

[…]

The United States, France, Sweden and Finland have actual nuclear waste disposal programs, having spent significant money and time, having full scale underground research laboratories, having broken ground or, in the case of the United States, having permanently disposed of some real nuclear waste below ground.

[…]

The issue has split the people in the region. Many want it for economic development, knowing the risks are so low they can’t even be measured, others don’t want it near them and just want it near anyone else. This ironic since a petrol station has more impact on human health and the environment than this waste site ever could.

Some of the native Barngarla people of the region have said they do not want the facility on their land. In a statement, the representative body Barngarla Aboriginal Corporation said it was denied the right to vote on the site. 

On the other hand, Minister Pitt said more than 60% of people in the Kimba council area supported the facility in a ballot run by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Read more at Australia Picks A Nuclear Waste Disposal Site – Now The Dance Begins

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Study Finds Radioactivity Migrated from Contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory During Woolsey Fire via Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles

Congressional and Local Elected Officials Release Letters to CalEPA Complaining that the SSFL Soil Cleanup, Which Was to Have Been Completed by 2017, Hasn’t Even Begun

Contact: Denise Duffield, 310-339-9676 or dduffield@psr-la.org
Melissa Bumstead ‪(818) 835-5258‬ or melissabumstead@sbcglobal.net
Dr. Marco Kaltofen mpkaltofen@gmail.com

A peer-reviewed study, just published by the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, found that radioactive contamination from the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) migrated offsite during the 2018 Woolsey Fire, which began at SSFL. The study calls into question widely distrusted claims by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and its toxics department that no contamination was released.

SSFL is a former nuclear and rocket-engine testing facility located in the hills above the Simi and San Fernando valleys. Decades of accidents, spills, and releases – including a partial nuclear meltdown – resulted in extensive radioactive and chemical contamination that still has not been cleaned up.

The study “Radioactive microparticles related to the Woolsey Fire in Simi Valley, CA” was conducted by Marco Kaltofen of the Dept. of Physics, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Maggie and Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Energy Education. It examined 360 samples of household dust, surface soils, and ash from 150 homes as well as other locations collected in December 2018 through February 2019 by community volunteers who received training in sample and safety protocols. Photos and video of the sample collection can be downloaded here. The study found radioactive particles associated with the fire at SSFL as high as nineteen times background (normal) as much as nine miles away.

[…]

“Most of the fire-impacted samples found near the SSFL site’s perimeter were on lands accessible to the public. There were, however, scattered localized areas of increased radioactivity due to the presence of radioactive microparticles in ash and recently-settled dusts collected just after the Woolsey fire. These radioactive outliers were found in Thousand Oaks, CA, and Simi Valley, CA, about 15 and 5 km distant from SSFL, respectively. The Thousand Oaks samples had alpha count rates up to 19 times background, and X-ray spectroscopy (SEM) identified alpha-emitting thorium as the source of this excess radioactivity. Excessive alpha radiation in small particles is of particular interest because of the relatively high risk of inhalation-related long-term biological damage from internal alpha emitters compared to external radiation.”

The findings contradict conclusions by CalEPA’s Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), which, a mere 9 hours after the fire began on November 8, 2018, declared that the fire didn’t result in releases of hazardous materials. CalEPA/DTSC issued an interim study in December 2018, affirmed in a final version in December 2020, which asserted that “data from sampling and measurements did not detect the release of chemical or radiological contaminants from SSFL.” The CalEPA/DTSC claims were widely criticized (see, e.g., Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists).

[…]

MSNBC to Air Award-Winning Documentary About the Santa Susana Field Lab

MSNBC has announced the acquisition of the documentary, “In the Dark of the Valley,” which follows the story of Melissa Bumstead and other local mothers whose children have been diagnosed with rare cancers and are fighting for SSFL to be fully cleaned up. The film has won numerous awards on the festival circuit, including Best Documentary at the Phoenix and Catalina Film Festivals. The film will air nationwide on November 14, 2021 at 10pm EST.

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Nuclear power is not sustainable energy – German environment ministry via Reuters

BERLIN, Oct 13 (Reuters) – Germany’s [sic] continues to push for the European Union not to classify nuclear power as a sustainable energy source, the country’s environment ministry spokesperson told a press conference on Wednesday.

“In the event an accident, entire regions would become uninhabitable and many future generations of taxpayers would have to pay for the damage as well as deal with the waste. All this is obviously not sustainable,” the spokesperson said.

[…]

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