Sunday, April 23, 2017

Guest Column: Dismantling of Environmental Protection in the US

Please see below a letter and links from Micheal Lee, a senior policy analyst, Council on Intelligent Energy & Conservation Policy (CIECP):

Dismantlement of environmental protection in the US has begun in earnest.

Pasted below is the notice that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is commencing implementation of Trump’s Executive Order 13777 – aimed at reducing the “burden” of regulatory protection.

The Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) is among the very first agency offices targeted. Pruitt, E. Scott, Memo re Executive Order 13777: Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda, Mar 24, 2017.

(Others on the early hit list include the EPA offices of Land and Emergency Management; Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention; Water; and Environmental Information.)

By the way, the existing Office of Air and Radiation regulatory burden is about as light as a feather.

OAR delegated nuclear plant effluent monitoring to the NRC years ago. The NRC, of course, leaves it up to the operators to do their own monitoring.

To my knowledge, there has never been either an EPA or NRC audit of radioactive effluent monitoring of the US fleet, much less any long-term evaluation of the monitoring at any specific plant.

According to OAR participants on a conference call a few years ago, neither the EPA nor the NRC creates reports which tally or verify the actual emissions from any specific plant, much less the full national complex. Leaks into groundwater get a little more attention, usually in the wake of embarrassing publicity, but the last NRC report on groundwater leaks was in 2010.

Because of multiple unplanned leaks at Indian Point – and media attention – the site added extra monitoring wells. Thanks to these wells, leaks have been discovered as recently as 2016. See, e.g.,

A couple of years ago I spent a tedious day combing through a grouping of Indian Point monitoring well reports and found an abundance of missing data as well as a number of intense radioactivity level spikes.


Michel Lee, Esq.
Senior Policy Analyst
Promoting Health and Sustainable Energy (PHASE)

Friday, April 21, 2017

A New Pogrom Targeting Academia?

I am tired of reading assaults about the ill-liberalism of the academy.

For example, The Wall Street Journal's tirades against the academy have been amped-up recently, with several editorials published weekly attacking academics for their cultural relativity.

This week David Brooks launched his own offensive against the academy, arguing in absurd fashion that academics are responsible for the rise of authoritarianism by problematizing the Western enlightenment narrative:
David Brooks (April 21, 2017). The Crisis of Western Civilization. The New York Times,

…This Western civ narrative came with certain values — about the importance of reasoned discourse, the importance of property rights, the need for a public square that was religiously informed but not theocratically dominated. It set a standard for what great statesmanship looked like. It gave diverse people a sense of shared mission and a common vocabulary, set a framework within which political argument could happen and most important provided a set of common goals.

Starting decades ago, many people, especially in the universities, lost faith in the Western civilization narrative. They stopped teaching it, and the great cultural transmission belt broke. Now many students, if they encounter it, are taught that Western civilization is a history of oppression.

It’s amazing what far-reaching effects this has had. It is as if a prevailing wind, which powered all the ships at sea, had suddenly ceased to blow. Now various scattered enemies of those Western values have emerged, and there is apparently nobody to defend them.
The first consequence has been the rise of the illiberals, authoritarians who not only don’t believe in the democratic values of the Western civilization narrative, but don’t even pretend to believe in them, as former dictators did.
Brooks simply demonstrates his own ignorance of what goes on in the academy that he criticizes for rejecting western values. Indeed, the vast majority of critical scholarship in the academy seeks to redress the gap between liberal values of liberty, justice and equality on the one hand and illiberal, unjust, and unequal institutions and practices in society on the other hand.

In my own work on liberalism (e.g., see here ) I point out exactly these contradictions with the aim of promoting liberal reform. Liberalism must reform itself or it shall lapse into some sort of totalitarianism, either by corporations or government or some hybridized variant.

[Karl Marx was far too optimistic while Orwell and Huxley seem prescient]

I believe a new form of pogrom is being fomented against academics.

Across the twentieth century, authoritarian leaders and organizations targeted academia as they consolidated power because academia is a center of educated thinkers who have been taught to think critically about the production and effects of knowledge-truth.

Although academics mostly are preoccuppied in their academic silos, they have the capacity to challenge the legitimacy of authoritarian truths issued by political and economic authorities.

This capacity makes them dangerous for authoritarians. Academics must therefore be subverted or coerced.

Coercion doesn't even have to come from the state. By inciting anger against academics, the puppet masters can have others enact their coercive strategies.

David Brooks needs to re-think his participation in this propaganda push against academics. The mob being mobilized may not be too discriminatory in its dislike of the intelligentsia....

Thursday, April 20, 2017

"Recycling" Nuclear Waste

TruNews is reporting that Japan is considering using radioactive Fukushima soil for public parks:

The Japanese government may buy using soil from the Fukushima prefecture as landfill for “green areas” and parks, potentially subjecting citizens to dangerous radiation.
The advisory panel of the Environment Ministry on Monday proposed reusing soil that was contaminated during the Fukushima nuclear meltdown of 2011 as part of future landfills designated for public use, Kyodo news reported.
In its proposal, the environmental panel avoided openly using the word “park” and instead said “green space,” apparently to avoid a premature public outcry, Mainichi Shimbun reported.
- See more at:
I am reminded by this story of the "black soil" that was found around Fukushima and even as far south as Tokyo in the immediate years after the disaster:

In June of 2012, reports of highly radioactive black soil began appearing in Japan. On June 14 the Asahi Shimbun ran a story addressing the soil:
 S. Nomura (14 June 2012) ‘Radioactive “Black Soil” Patches’, The Asahi Shimbun Weekly Area,, date accessed 16 June 2012.
The highest level of radioactivity detected--about 5.57 million becquerels per kilogram--came from black soil collected in the Kanaya neighborhood of the Odaka district of southern Minami-Soma. In 36 out of 41 locations in Fukushima Prefecture where black soil was collected, the radioactivity level exceeded 100,000 becquerels per kilogram. If that level was found in incinerator ash, it would have to be handled very carefully and buried in a facility that had a concrete exterior separating it from its surroundings.
Citizens concerned about the highly radioactive soil brought samples to Tomoya Yamauchi, an academic specializing in radiation measurement. Yamauchi found that the soil contained radioactive cesium at levels of 1.08 million becquerels per kilogram.

Other samples of soil brought in from Minami-Soma contained plutonium and strontium. Tokyo also yielded samples of highly radioactive soil. Despite the high levels of radiation, the article reported that no action was being taken to remove the soil:
But for now, nothing is being done about the black soil with high levels of radiation. "Because it normally is found on the ground, we believe it is not something that will have immediate effects on human health," a Minami-Soma municipal government official said.
No “immediate effects on human health” had become an often chanted mantra.  Now it seems that soil with "no immediate effects on human health" will be used in public works.

Japan is not alone in this ill-advised plan to recycle nuclear waste. Scientific American reports that US nuclear waste sometimes ends up in consumer products:
What Does the U.S. Do with Nuclear Waste? What are the future plans for U.S. nuclear waste storage?
Currently, without any central repository, nuclear waste generated in the U.S. is stored at or near one of the 121 facilities across the country where it is generated. Nevadans like Democratic Senator Harry Reid, who has doggedly opposed the Yucca Mountain repository, say it makes more sense to leave such waste where it is than to risk transporting it across the nation’s public highways and rail system, during which accidents or even terrorist attacks could expose untold numbers of Americans to radioactivity.

But others say that the current system, or lack thereof, leaves Americans at great risk of radioactive exposure. The non-profit Nuclear Information and Resource Service concluded in a 2007 report that tons of radioactive waste were ending up in landfills and in some cases in consumer products, thanks to loopholes in a 2000 federal ban on recycling metal that had been exposed to radioactivity

The Nuclear Information and Resource Center argues that this re-purposing of nuclear waste is deliberate and systematic, with high risks for consumers:

Nuclear Giants Limp Toward Extinction

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 Was Looking Steamy Yesterday

Here is a screen shot from April 17, 2017 10:19 am

You can see steam rising from inside of unit 1