Progressive Calendar 04.06.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Mon, 6 Apr 2009 02:51:36 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   04.06.09

1. Stop MN nukedom    4.06 10:30am
2. Human rights       4.06 10:45am
3. Peace walk         4.06 6pm RiverFalls WI
4. Spanish classes    4.06 6:30pm
5. Uhcan-mn           4.06 7pm
6. Howard Zinn        4.06 7pm

7. Pedagogy/oppressed 4.07 12noon
8. Econ crisis/CTV    4.07 5pm
9. RNC court watch    4.07 6pm
10. Worker's film     4.07 6:30pm
11. Amnesty Intl      4.07 7pm StCloud MN
12. Sustain/film      4.07 7pm

13. Sue Sturgis - The real Three Mile Island: blast from the past
14. ed          - A glowing account  (poem)

--------1 of 14--------

From: David Strand <lavgrn [at]>
Subject: Stop MN nukedom 4.06 10:30am

The Senate passed an amendment on the floor Thursday to repeal the
moratorium on nuclear power plants in Minnesota.  To be able to
successfully kill the amendment now we need to keep a repeal of the
moratorium out of the House bill and it can be amended at various stages.
The bill has now moved on to another committee than the one first noted
without having the repeal of the nuclear power plant moratorium attatched.
Please be there 10:30 AM Monday at the Capitol if you are able and please
call the house members below, particularly if you reside in one of their

[The Leg LUSTS to serve the corporations not us. Turn your back and it's
pregnant with a deformed radioactive baby. So it plays fast and loose with
times, places, bill numbers, etc, all in an attempt to blindside the
public while it has its evil way. So you have to outwait and outwit them,
outthreaten and outpublicize them. Be prepared. Life was too good, so
they invented this Leg.  -ed]

Date: Sun, 5 Apr 2009 13:56:24 EDT
From: PRO826 [at]

For those concerned about the potential of new nuclear power plants in
Minnesota, note that our legislature has been considering lifting the
moratorium on the certificate of need for new nuclear power plants in our
state.  The West Metro Global Warming Action Group, Inc. were one of
several who testified on March 26th in the MN House of Representatives
Energy and Finance Policy Committee hearings and provided testimony
against lifting the moratorium.  We were delighted when the committee did
not pass HF 1091 by a vote of 12 -9.  Committee Chair Rep Hilty provided
closing remarks before the roll call vote suggesting that the committee
should not support HF 1091.

Unfortunately, on April 2nd, the MN Senate, without any committee
processes or public notification, passed SF 550, the Omibus Energy Bill,
Section 17, subdivision 3b which eliminates the state moratorium on
construction of a new nuclear-powered electric generating plant. This
provision was added by amendment on the Senate floor (Senator Dille).

Thus, the process now is that it will likely be introduced as an amendment
in a current House File and unfortunately, it will be difficult to track
exactly which bill it will be attached to.  This is time-sensitive and
urgent action is needed by Monday morning.

THEREFORE, it is imperative that we make ONE or more phone calls to our MN
House of Representative and request that they do not pass any legislation
which would lift the moratorium on the certificate of need for new nuclear
power plants.

Please contact your own representative and also,
 Rep Hilty, Chair of the Energy and Finance Policy Committee
(_rep.bill.hilty [at] house.mn_ (mailto:rep.bill.hilty [at]  or
651-296-4308 or 800-788-1329)
 and Rep Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Speaker of the House
(_rep.margaret.kelliher [at] house.mn_ (mailto:rep.margaret.kelliher [at]
or 651-296-0171
 and state that you would appreciate that they NOT support
lifting the moratorium on new nuclear power plants in Minnesota.

To find contact information for your MN Representative, see link or phone
numbers below:
(  or if you know your
House District already:


I've included below, a letter written by our volunteer lobbyist for the
West Metro Global Warming Action Group, Inc. with arguments and references
as to why we need to focus on policies initiating renewable energy and not
waste time on the nuclear energy option as the solution for global
warming.  Note, due to space restrictions, I have not included any of the
Exhibits as referenced in the letter, but they can be forwarded via email
by request, contact _pro826 [at] aol.com_ (mailto:pro826 [at]  if

Also, another excellent reference is from the Public Citizen website on
the Fatal Flaws of Nuclear energy, see link:
  (copy and paste the URL in your browser to reference)

For sane energy policies in MN,
Danene Provencher
West Metro Global Warming Action Group, Inc.

THOMAS E. CASEY Attorney at  Law
2854 Cambridge Lane Mound, MN  55364
(952) 472-1099  (office) (952) 472-4771 (fax)
_tcasey [at] frontiernet.net_ (mailto:tcasey [at]
April 4, 2009
Board of Directors West Metro Global Warming Action Group, Inc.
P.O. Box 182
Mound, MN 55364

Re: Proposed  Legislation to Remove the Moratorium on New Nuclear Power
Plants (HF 1091)

Dear Board Members,

You requested a written elaboration of the testimony I provided on your
behalf at the Minnesota House of Representatives; Committee on Energy
Finance and Policy on March 26, 2009. (As you recall, House File 1091 -
a bill to remove the moratorium on new nuclear power plants - was defeated
by a vote of 9 in favor and 12 opposed.)

Specifically, my comments pertain to why the present nuclear power
moratorium should not be removed.


The U.S. has only of the world's "identified uranium resources,"
recoverable at a cost of less than $130.00 per kilogram of uranium.
[Reference:, Uranium 2007: Resources, Production, and Demand, a joint
report by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the OECD Nuclear
Energy Agency (2008), page 15. A derived chart is attached as Exhibit 1.]
In my opinion, only 37% of the identified uranium resources are likely to
come from reliably "friendly" countries.  (See Exhibit 1.) Of course, if
uranium rises in price, more uranium could be found, but then nuclear
energy becomes even less competitive because of the higher cost. Moreover,
in 2007, the sources of uranium for U.S. reactors were:  8% (3,973,000
pounds of U308 equivalent) - from the United States; and 92% (47,011,000
pounds of U308 equivalent) - from foreign sources.  Similar ratios exist
for the years 2003-06. [Reference: U.S. Energy Information Agency, -
Uranium Marketing Annual Report (May 19, 2008), Table 3. Derived charts
are attached as Exhibits 2 and 2A.]

Finally, for the years 2003-2007, the vast majority of "uranium
enrichment services" has also been purchased from foreign countries. In
2007, the U.S.  purchased only 10% of its enrichment services from U.S.
sources.  [Reference:  U.S. Energy Information Agency, "Uranium
Marketing Annual Report" (May 19, 2008), Table 16. A derived chart is
attached as Exhibit 3.]


If nuclear power was safe, Congress would not have needed to enact the
Price-Anderson Act in 1957, which established liability limits for damages
that utility companies must pay in the event of a nuclear power plant
disaster.  (See 42 U.S.C. ยง 2210.) Of course, any damages above the
liability limits would be paid by taxpayers. This public policy decision
was explicitly acknowledged by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case entitled
Duke Power Company v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, Inc. 98 S.Ct.
2620 (1978), where the court stated, "[T]here remained in the path of the
private power industry various problems - the risk of potentially vast
liability in the event of a nuclear accident of sizeable magnitude being
the major obstacle.. [T]he potential liability dwarfed the ability of the
industry and private insurance companies to absorb the risk ...
[S]pokesmen for the private sector informed Congress that they would be
forced to withdraw from the field if their liability were not limited by
appropriate legislation ... Congress responded in 1957 by passing the
Price- Anderson Act" [Duke Power, at page 2626, emphasis added.] Nuclear
power needs the liability limits of the Price-Anderson Act; renewable
energy does not.


It is unfortunate that business leaders and labor unions have pitched
nuclear power as a way to create jobs. They have presented no evidence
that nuclear power will create more jobs than the jobs created from
renewable energy sources. However, let's assume that more nuclear jobs
would be created than the green jobs created by renewable energy. Wouldn't
that make nuclear power less competitive because of higher labor costs?
Shouldn't we try to reduce energy costs?

Instead, business and labor leaders should work with communities and the
legislature to find ways to create renewable energy jobs - jobs that are
safe, clean, and provide energy independence.


All stages of nuclear power are dirty, with radiation and other hazards to
human health and the environment resulting from occupational exposure,
human error, sabotage, and theft:

A. Uranium Mining. Throughout the world, the vast majority of uranium is
mined by three basic methods:  underground, in situ leaching (ISL), or
open pit. [Reference:  Uranium 2007: Resources, Production, and Demand, a
joint report by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the OECD
Nuclear Energy Agency (2008), page 10. A derived chart is attached as
Exhibit 4.]

All of these methods present threats by radioactive materials and heavy
metals to human health and the environment. For example, underground
uranium miners are exposed to radon gas.

(Uranium Workers Health Study -
( .)  "The
NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] anticipates that nearly 75 percent of
new license applications for uranium milling received by the agency within
the next several years will propose the use of ISL [in situ leach]
process. (Federal Register, July 28, 2008, page 43796.)  However, the
environmental consequences of ISL uranium recovery have not been fully
explored.  A Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the
impacts of in situ leach (ISL) uranium recovery was released for public
comment; the deadline was October 7, 2008.  (Federal Register, July 28,
2008, pages 43795-43798.) To the best of my knowledge, a final EIS has not
been released. From what we know already, ISL uranium recovery creates the
potential for groundwater contamination and other abuses. For example, on
November 21, 2007, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Land
Quality Division (DEQ-LQD), issued a Report of Investigation on the
Smith-Highland Ranch, the only significant uranium producer in Wyoming.
The report states in page 2:  "Over the years there have been an
inordinate number of spills, leaks and other releases at this operation.
Some 80 spills have been reported, in addition to numerous pond leaks,
well casing failures and excursions. Unfortunately, it appears that such
occurrences have become routine. The LQD currently has two large three-
ring binders full of spill reports from the Smith Ranch - Highland
operations." (See attached Exhibit 5.)

B. Uranium Milling. The milling of uranium ore into "yellowcake"
(approximately 60% or more U308 by weight) presents more risk of exposure.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  states: "Although the
milling process recovers about 95 percent of the uranium present in ores,
the residues, or tailings, contain several naturally-occurring radioactive
elements, including uranium, thorium, radium, polonium, and radon. They
also contain a number of chemically hazardous elements, such as arsenic.
Past use of mill tailings for house, school, road, and other construction
created public radiation health hazards."  (See April, 2006 EPA document: mines.pdf, attached as Exhibit
6.)  Uranium workers are especially susceptible to uranium overdoses. The
EPA also states:  "Workers in the industry have the potential for
overexposure to radioactive material and must stay up-to-date on federal,
state and industry health and safety guidelines.  Following these
procedures will reduce total on-site exposure."

Workers also need to take precautions to avoid bringing radioactive
material residue on their clothes and shoes home to their families and
neighborhoods. - Remove potentially contaminated clothes and shoes before
returning to the family car and to your home or office. - Do not bring
home discarded equipment or material used at sites such as pipes, devices,
bricks, rocks, and water or re-use these materials as containers or as
building materials. (See April, 2006 EPA document: mines.pdf)

See also comments in subparagraph A regarding ISL uranium recovery, a
combined mining and milling process.

C. Uranium Conversion. The conversion of uranium yellowcake to uranium
hexafluoride (UF6) is also a dirty process that has created safety issues.
The Honeywell conversion facility in Metropolis, Illinois, the only
conversion facility in the U.S, reported to the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission on July 13, 2001 that it exceeded  - the nearest resident
radioactivity concentration of 3.OE-14 pCi/ml for the second quarter of
2001. (See attached Exhibit 7.)

D. Uranium Enrichment. The only facility in the U.S. to enrich uranium
hexafluoride gas (from a U- 235 concentration of 0.7% to 3-5%) is
presently operated by the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC)
outside of Paducah, Kentucky. There have been very expensive cleanup
issues arising from past actions on this site. (Caveat: I offer no opinion
about whether USCE's past actions contributed to this problem.) According
to an April, 2004 report by the General Accounting Office (GAO): - DOE
[Department of Energy] currently projects that the cleanup will take until
2019 and cost almost $1.6 billion to complete, 9 years and about $300
million more than DOE's earlier projection. The $1.6 billion, however,
does not include the cost of other DOE activities required at the site
after the plant ceases operations, including final decontamination and
decommissioning of the plant and long-term environmental monitoring. DOE
estimates these activities will cost almost $5 billion and bring DOE's
total costs at the site, including the $823 million already spent, to over
$7 billion through 2070 (in 2002 dollars).  (See attached Exhibit 8, page

E. Uranium Fuel Fabrication.  In the U.S., uranium fuel is fabricated in 6
facilities, in four states. In 2008, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
issued violations to at least 4 out of the 6 facilities.  (See attached
Exhibit 9.)

F. Nuclear Power Reactors. The United States has 104 nuclear reactors at
65 locations. 51 million pounds of uranium were purchased by U.S. nuclear
power facilities in 2007.  (See Exhibit 2.) The risk of radiation exposure
caused by sabotage, theft, or accident to one or more of these numerous
reactors cannot be ignored, as the intent of the Price-Anderson Act
clearly proves.  Safety continues to be an issue at Prairie Island. After
only a cursory review of Prairie Island's safety issues, I note that on
January 21 2009, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent a letter to the
Prairie Island nuclear facility in Red Wing, stating: ".. the NRC has
concluded that the inspection finding is appropriately characterized as
White, a finding with low to moderate increased importance to safety that
may require additional NRC inspections."  (See attached Exhibit 10.)

G. Disposal of Radioactive Waste. The final stage of nuclear power is the
disposal of radioactive waste. Testimony at the March 25 and 26, 2009
legislative hearings clearly stated that the French have not solved their
nuclear waste disposal problem. Neither has the U.S. On October 15, 2008,
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopted the following standards
for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site, which defy human comprehension:
"Compliance will be judged against a standard of 150 microsieverts per
year - (15 millirem per year (mrem/yr))  committed effective dose
equivalent (CEDE) at times up to 10,000 years after disposal and against a
standard of 1 millisievert per year (mSv/yr) (100 mrem/yr) CEDE at times
after 10,000 years and up to 1 million years after disposal." [Emphasis
added.] (References: Federal Register, October 15, 2008, page 61256; and
EPA regulation 40 CFR Part 197.)  Furthermore, President Obama's "proposed
budget cuts off most money for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project, a
decision that fulfills a campaign promise and wins the president political
points in Nevada, but raises new questions about what to do with
radioactive waste from the nation's nuclear power plants." (New York
Times, March 5, 2009.)


Nuclear power is dirty and unsafe from uranium through disposal. Our
country will not be safe and clean for at least 10,000 years - and up to 1
million years - after the last nuclear power plant is decommissioned and
the radioactive waste is buried.  This time period defies human
imagination. (10,000 years ago, my ancestors probably lived in a cave on
the glacial ice margins of northern Europe.) It is unconscionable to add
to this tragedy by building more nuclear power plants. We cannot foist the
problem of nuclear waste on at least the next 400 generations (10,000
years = 100 centuries x 4 generations/century = 400), a problem that our
descendants had no say about and never deserved. In summary, the nuclear
energy advocates have not made their case. They have not met the burden of
proof that the nuclear power plant moratorium should be lifted. Nuclear
power is a huge distraction - in time and money - that Americans cannot
afford. Instead, we must concentrate our limited time and money on: (1)
energy efficiency; (2) energy conservation; and (3) an "Apollo Program"
for the research, development, and implementation of renewable energy
resources. Please contact me any time if you have additional questions or
comments. Thank you again for allowing me to serve you.

Very truly  yours,
Thomas E. Casey TEC/rf

--------2 of 14--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Human rights 4.06 10:45am

April 6: Minneapolis Branch American Association of University Women
Meeting. 9:30 AM: What I've Learned About Education in Minnesota: What's
Working? What's Not? 10:45 AM: How Human Rights Advocates are Changing the
World with Professor Barbara Frey, founder, MN Advocates for Human Rights.
Noon: Luncheon. 1:15 PM: Business Meeting. 2115 Stevens Avenue South,

--------3 of 14--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 4.06 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022

--------4 of 14--------

From: Stephanie Bates <Stephanie.Bates [at]>
Subject: RCTA Spanish classes 4.06 6:30pm

Resource Center Classes offer:
-Small Class Size, limit 12 people
-Native Spanish Speaking Instructors
-Custom Curriculum-that integrates human rights and social justice themes.
-Classes are energetic and upbeat, you won't be practicing grammar for two
Sign up Now!

Our Spring session of Spanish classes will start the week of April 6th
Classes are $198 for members and $220 for non-members.
The Class schedule for Spring is as follows:
Beginning 1- Tuesday 6:30-8:30pm
Beginning 2- Saturday 12:00-2:00pm
Beginning 3- Wednesday 6:30-8:30 pm
Intermediate 1- Thursday 6:30-8:30 pm
Intermediate 2- Wednesday 6:30-8:30pm
Intermediate 3- Thursdau 6:30-8:30 pm

Call the office to Register: 612-276-0788 ext. 1 or visit
Hurry Spaces are filling fast!

Classes are held at the Resource Center of the Americas
3019 Minnehaha Ave S
Suite 20
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Program Coordinator Resource Center of the Americas 612-276-0788

--------5 of 14--------

From: Joel Albers <joel [at]>
Subject: Uhcan-mn 4.06 7pm

Next UHCAN-MN mtg, monday April 6, 7PM, Walker Church (gallery in
basement), 3104 16th Ave S, Mpls (1 block from Lake Str and
Bloomington Ave).

-Intros, background info on HC crisis, economic crisis, strategy
-Reportbacks; KFAI program on single-payer and next one; Mtg w/
Phillips N'hood Clinic
-coordinate, brief training for upcoming mobile health screenings,
April 17, and 25th
-progress in starting a legal arm in exposing HMO "insurers"
-organizing multi-disciplinary HC practitioners,new list serve etc
-prepare for  action at United Health Group Shareholders mtg
(highlighting SP can solve both HC and economic crises)

--------6 of 14--------

From: Nonviolent Peaceforce <nonviolentpeaceforce [at]>
Subject: Howard Zinn 4.06 7pm

Howard Zinn tells stories of truth and peace, stories of history that
resonate with what's happening today. Zinn shows how individuals have
changed society - it's about people behaving magnificently. As Zinn says,
"This gives us the energy to act. Hope is the energy for change."

This one-night only performance of readings and songs is a fundraiser for
Nonviolent Peaceforce.

Voices of a People's History
of the United States
7:00 p.m.  Monday April 6
O'Shaughnessy Auditorium
College of St. Catherine
2004 Randolph Avenue St. Paul
Tickets:  $12 Student,  $36 Main Floor,  $21 Balcony,
$125 Sustainer
/$100 tax deductible
Sustainers are invited to a reception with Howard Zinn after the show

For tickets:
Call O'Shaughnessy Box Office at 651-690-6700
buy them online at 

--------7 of 14--------

From: Joan Vanhala <joan [at]>
Subject: Pedagogy/oppressed 4.07 12noon

Come learn about the organizing practices of Twin Cities Pedagogy and
Theatre of the Oppressed (PTO). PTO uses pedagogy and theater to work with
oppressed peoples of the world to develop critical thinking and actions to
overcome social systems of oppression.

Organizer Roundtable: Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed - A Powerful
Organizing Practice
Noon - 1:30 pm
Tuesday, April 7
Rondo Community Outreach Library
461 N Dale Street, St. Paul

The session will be led by Victor Cole and his colleagues from the Twin
Cities Pedagogy and Theater of the Oppressed. Come join with your peers to
learn new and innovative organizing techniques and to discuss how they can
be applied in your own campaigns.

Organizer Roundtables are free, but registration is required.  Please
register at
Light snacks will be provided, and please bring your lunch!

The Rondo Community Outreach Library is located at the corner of
University Avenue and Dale Street with FREE underground parking - enter
from the south side of University Avenue.

Joan Vanhala Coalition Organizer Alliance for Metropolitan Stability 2525
E Franklin Avenue, Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55406 612-332-4471
joan [at]

--------8 of 14--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Econ crisis/CTV 4.07 5pm

Supercalafragalistic St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers:

"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm,
midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow!  All
households with basic cable may watch.

Tues, 4/7, 5pm & midnight and Wed, 4/8, 10am
The Economic Crisis: A Recent History of Deregulation
Talk given by People's Economist Karen Redleaf on some of the causes of
the current economic crisis.

--------9 of 14--------

From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at]>
Subject: RNC court watch 4.07 6pm

RNC Court Watchers are in need of participants to help with organizing
court information, documentation and etc.  RNC Court Watchers Meetings are
every Tuesday, 6 P.M. at Caffeto's. Below is announcement for our

Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the
streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately
used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to
disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The
RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this
intimidation, harassment and abuse!

Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to
find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent

Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street,
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M
participate and help organize RNC court solidarity.
For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at]

--------10 of 14--------

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Worker's film 4.07 6:30pm

Tuesday, April 7, we will show the film, At the River I Stand.  Great film
about the workers movement.  Takes place during the 1968 strike by
sanitation workers in Memphis, which became one of the most important
events of the Civil Rights movement as well.

Pax Salons ( )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.

--------11 of 14-------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 4.07 7pm StCloud MN

Saint Cloud Area Amnesty International meets on Tuesday, April 7th, from
7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the St. Cloud Public Library, 1300 W. St. Germain,
Saint Cloud. For more information contact Jerry Dirks, 320-251-6491 or
jerry.dirks [at]

--------12 of 14--------

From: Curt McNamara <mcnam025 [at]>
Subject: Sustain/film 4.07 7pm

Don't miss Everything's Cool, the last screening in this semester's
Celebrate Sustainability Film Series on Tuesday, April 7. From the makers
of Blue Vinyl, Everything's Cool follows global warming messengers as they
search for the iconic image, the magic language and the points of leverage
to create the political will to move the U.S. away from its reliance on
fossil fuels toward a new clean energy economy. The screening begins at 7
p.m. in the College Center, located on the second floor of MCAD's Main

Both cineforums are free and open to the public. Visit MCAD's events
page to find out more.

--------13 of 14--------

Startling Revelations About Three Mile Island Raise New Doubts Over
Nuclear Plant Safety
Fooling with Disaster?
[Blast from the past -ed]
April 3-5, 2009

It was April Fool's Day, 1979 - 30 years ago this week - when Randall
Thompson first set foot inside the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant
near Middletown, Pa. Just four days earlier, in the early morning hours of
March 28, a relatively minor problem in the plant's Unit 2 reactor sparked
a series of mishaps that led to the meltdown of almost half the uranium
fuel and uncontrolled releases of radiation into the air and surrounding
Susquehanna River.

It was the single worst disaster ever to befall the U.S. nuclear power
industry, and Thompson was hired as a health physics technician to go
inside the plant and find out how dangerous the situation was. He spent 28
days monitoring radiation releases.

Today, his story about what he witnessed at Three Mile Island is being
brought to the public in detail for the first time - and his version of
what happened during that time, supported by a growing body of other
scientific evidence, contradicts the official U.S. government story that
the Three Mile Island accident posed no threat to the public.

"What happened at TMI was a whole lot worse than what has been reported,"
Randall Thompson told Facing South. "Hundreds of times worse."

Thompson and his wife, Joy, a nuclear health physicist who also worked at
TMI in the disaster's aftermath, claim that what they witnessed there was
a public health tragedy. The Thompsons also warn that the government's
failure to acknowledge the full scope of the disaster is leading officials
to underestimate the risks posed by a new generation of nuclear power

While new reactor construction ground to a halt after the 1979 incident,
state leaders and energy executives today are pushing for a nuclear energy
revival that's centered in the South, where 12 of the 17 facilities
seeking new reactors are located.

Fundamental to the industry's case for expansion is the claim that history
proves nuclear power is clean and safe - a claim on which the Thompsons
and others, bolstered by startling new evidence, are casting doubt.

                       An unlikely critic

Randall Thompson could never be accused of being a knee-jerk anti-nuclear
alarmist. A veteran of the U.S. Navy's nuclear submarine program, he is a
self-described "nuclear geek" who after finishing military service jumped
at the chance to work for commercial nuclear power companies.

He worked for a time at the Peach Bottom nuclear plant south of Three Mile
Island in Pennsylvania's York County, but quit the industry six months
before the TMI disaster over concerns that nuclear companies were cutting
corners for higher profits, with potentially dangerous results. Instead,
he began publishing a skateboarding magazine with his wife Joy.

But the moment the Thompsons heard about the TMI incident, they wanted to
get inside the plant and see what was happening first-hand. That didn't
prove difficult: Plant operator Metropolitan Edison's in-house health
physics staff fled after the incident began, so responsibility for
monitoring radioactive emissions went to a private contractor called Rad

The company immediately hired Randall Thompson to serve as the health
physics technician in charge of monitoring radioactive emissions, while
Joy Thompson got a job monitoring radiation doses to TMI workers.

"I had other health physicists from around the country calling me saying,
'Don't let it melt without me!" Randall Thompson recalls. "It was
exciting. Our attitude was, 'Sure I may get some cancer, but I can find
out some cool stuff.'"

What the Thompsons say they found out during their time inside TMI
suggests radiation releases from the plant were hundreds if not thousands
of times higher than the government and industry have acknowledged - high
enough to cause the acute health effects documented in people living near
the plant but that have been dismissed by the industry and the government
as impossible given official radiation dose estimates.

The Thompsons tried to draw attention to their findings and provide health
information for people living near the plant, but what they say happened
next reads like a John Grisham thriller.

They tell of how a stranger approached Randall Thompson in a grocery store
parking lot in late April 1979 and warned him his life was at risk,
leading the family to flee Pennsylvania. How they ended up in New Mexico
working on a book about their experiences with the help of Joy's brother
Charles Busey, another nuclear Navy vet and a former worker at the Hatch
nuclear power plant in Georgia. How one evening while driving home from
the store Busey and Randall Thompson were run off the road, injuring
Thompson and killing Busey. How a copy of the book manuscript they were
working on was missing from the car's trunk after the accident. These
allegations were detailed in several newspaper accounts back in 1981.

Eventually, after a decade of having their lives ruled by TMI, the
Thompsons decided to move on. Randall Thompson went to college to study
computer science. Joy Thompson returned to publishing and writing.

Today they live quietly in the mountains of North Carolina where, inspired
by time spent seeking refuge with a traveling circus, they have forged a
new career for themselves as clowns - or what they like to call
"professional fools." As Joy Thompson wrote in the fall 2001 issue of
Parabola, a journal of myth, the role of the fool is to help people
"perceive the foolishness in even ... the most powerful institutions,"
noting the medieval court jester's role of telling the King what others
dare not.

That conviction has led the Thompsons to tell their story today.

"They haven't told the truth yet about what happened at Three Mile
Island," says Randall Thompson. "A lot of people have died because of this
accident. A lot."

                         Anomalies abound

That a lot of people died because of what happened at Three Mile Island,
as the Thompsons claim, is definitely not part of the official story. In
fact, the commercial nuclear power industry and the government insist that
despite the meltdown of almost half of the uranium fuel at TMI, there were
only minimal releases of radiation to the environment that harmed no one.

For example, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the lobbying group for the U.S.
nuclear industry, declares on its website that there have been "no public
health or safety consequences from the TMI-2 accident." The government's
position is the same, reflected in a fact sheet distributed today by the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency charged with overseeing
the U.S. nuclear power industry: TMI, it says, "led to no deaths or
injuries to plant workers or members of the nearby community." [The
watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert offers their take on the NRC
factsheet here.]

Those upbeat claims are based on the findings of the Kemeny Commission, a
panel assembled by President Jimmy Carter in April 1979 to investigate the
TMI disaster. Using release figures presented by Metropolitan Edison and
the NRC, the commission calculated that in the month following the
disaster there were releases of up to 13 million curies of so-called
"noble gases" - considered relatively harmless - but only 13 to 17
curies of iodine-131, a radioactive form of the element that at even
moderate exposures causes thyroid cancer. (A curie is a measure of
radioactivity, with 1 curie equal to the activity of one gram of radium.
For help understanding these and other terms, see the glossary at the end
of this piece.)

But the official story that there were no health impacts from the disaster
doesn't jibe with the experiences of people living near TMI. On the
contrary, their stories suggest that area residents actually suffered
exposure to levels of radiation high enough to cause acute effects - far
more than the industry and the government has acknowledged.

Some of their disturbing experiences were collected in the book Three Mile
Island: The People's Testament, which is based on interviews with 250 area
residents done between 1979 and 1988 by Katagiri Mitsuru and Aileen M.

It includes the story of Jean Trimmer, a farmer who lived in Lisburn, Pa.
about 10 miles west of TMI. On the evening of March 30, 1979, Trimmer
stepped outside on her front porch to fetch her cat when she was hit with
a blast of heat and rain. Soon after, her skin became red and itchy as if
badly sunburned, a condition known as erythema. About three weeks later,
her hair turned white and began falling out. Not long after, she reported,
her left kidney "just dried up and disappeared" - an occurrence so
strange that her case was presented to a symposium of doctors at the
nearby Hershey Medical Center. All of those symptoms are consistent with
high-dose radiation exposure.

There was also Bill Peters, an auto-body shop owner and a former justice
of the peace who lived just a few miles west of the plant in Etters, Pa.
The day after the disaster, he and his son - who like most area residents
were unaware of what was unfolding nearby - were working in their garage
with the doors open when they developed what they first thought was a bad
sunburn. They also experienced burning in their throats and tasted what
seemed to be metal in the air. That same metallic taste was reported by
many local residents and is another symptom of radiation exposure,
commonly reported in cancer patients receiving radiation therapy.

Peters soon developed diarrhea and nausea, blisters on his lips and inside
his nose, and a burning feeling in his chest. Not long after, he had
surgery for a damaged heart valve. When his family evacuated the area a
few days later, they left their four-year-old German shepherd in their
garage with 200 pounds of dog chow, 50 gallons of water and a mattress.
When they returned a week later, they found the dog dead on the mattress,
his eyes burnt completely white. His food was untouched, and he had
vomited water all over the garage. They also found four of their five cats
dead - their eyes also burnt white - and one alive but blinded. Peters
later found scores of wild bird carcasses scattered over their property.

Similar stories surfaced in The People of Three Mile Island, a book by
documentary photographer Robert Del Tredici. He found local farmers whose
cattle and goats died, suffered miscarriages and gave birth to deformed
young after the incident; whose chickens developed respiratory problems
and died; and whose fruit trees abruptly lost all their leaves. Local
residents also collected evidence of deformed plants, some of which were
examined by James Gunckel, a botanist and radiation expert with Brookhaven
National Laboratory and Rutgers University.

"There were a number of anomalies entirely comparable to those induced by
ionizing radiation - stem fasciations, growth stimulation, induction of
extra vegetative buds and stem tumors," he swore in a 1984 affidavit.

Scientists say these kinds of anomalies simply aren't explained by
official radiation release estimates.

                         Evidence of harm

The evidence that people, animals and plants near TMI were exposed to high
levels of radiation in the 1979 disaster is not merely anecdotal. While
government studies of the disaster as well as a number of independent
researchers assert the incident caused no harm, other surveys and studies
have also documented health effects that point to a high likelihood of
significant radiation exposures.

In 1984, for example, psychologist Marjorie Aamodt and her engineer
husband, Norman - owners of an organic dairy farm east of Three Mile
Island who got involved in a lawsuit seeking to stop TMI from restarting
its Unit 1 reactor - surveyed residents in three hilltop neighborhoods
near the plant. Dozens of neighbors reported a metallic taste, nausea,
vomiting and hair loss as well as illnesses including cancers, skin and
reproductive problems, and collapsed organs - all associated with
radiation exposure. Among the 450 people surveyed, there were 19 cancer
deaths reported between 1980 and 1984 - more than seven times what would
be expected statistically.

That survey came to the attention of the industry-financed TMI Public
Health Fund, created in 1981 as part of a settlement for economic losses
from the disaster. The fund's scientific advisors verified the Aamodts'
calculations and launched a more comprehensive study of TMI-related cancer
deaths led by a team of scientists from Columbia University. The
researchers found an association between estimated radiation doses
received by area residents and instances of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, lung
cancer, leukemia and all cancers combined. Crucially, however, the
researchers decided there wasn't "convincing evidence" that TMI radiation
releases were linked to the increase in cancers in the area because of the
"low estimates of radiation exposure." The paper did not consider what
conclusions could be drawn if those "low estimates" turned out to be

By the time the Columbia research was published in the early 1990s, a
class-action lawsuit was underway involving about 2,000 plaintiffs
claiming that the radiation emissions were much larger than admitted by
the government and industry. (The federal courts eventually rejected that
suit, though hundreds of out-of-court settlements totaling millions of
dollars have been reached with victims, including the parents of children
born with birth defects.)

Consulting for the plaintiffs' attorneys, the Aamodts contacted Dr. Steven
Wing, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina School of
Public Health in Chapel Hill to provide support for the plaintiffs. Dr.
Wing was reluctant to get involved because - as he wrote in a 2003 paper
about his experience - "allegations of high radiation doses at TMI were
considered by mainstream radiation scientists to be a product of radiation
phobia or efforts to extort money from a blameless industry." But
impressed with the Aamodts' compelling if imperfect evidence, Wing agreed
to look at whether there were connections between radiation exposure from
TMI and cancer rates.

Wing reanalyzed the Columbia scientists' data, looking at cancer rates
before the TMI disaster to control for other possible risk factors in the
10-mile area. His peer-reviewed results, published in 1997, found positive
relationships between accident dose estimates and rates of leukemia, lung
cancer and all cancers. Where the Columbia study found a 30 percent
average increase in lung cancer risk among one group of residents, for
example, Wing found an 85 percent increase. And while the Columbia
researchers found little or no increase in adult leukemias and a
statistically unreliable increase in childhood cases, Wing found that
people downwind during the most intense releases were eight to 10 times
more likely on average than their neighbors to develop leukemia.

Dr. Wing reflected on his findings at a symposium in Harrisburg marking
the 30-year anniversary of the Three Mile Island disaster last week.

"I believe this is very good evidence that releases were thousands of
times greater than the story we've been told," he said. "As we think about
the current plans to open more nuclear reactors, when we hear - which we
hear often - that no one was harmed at Three Mile Island, we really
should question that."

                    Documenting discrepancies

Randall and Joy Thompson couldn't agree more. If anything, they think Dr.
Wing's findings understate the impact of Three Mile Island because they're
based on low-ball estimates of radiation releases.

"Given what he was allowed to know or could figure out, he did a slam-bang
job of it," Joyce Thompson says.

In 1995, the Thompsons - with the help of another health physics expert
who was also hired to monitor radiation after the TMI disaster, David Bear
(formerly Bloombaum) - prepared a report analyzing the Kemeny Commission
findings. Their research, which hasn't been covered by any major media,
documents a series of inconsistencies and omissions in the government's

For example, the official story is that the TMI incident released only 13
to 17 curies of dangerous iodine into the outside environment, a tiny
fraction of the 13 million curies of less dangerous radioactive gases
officials say were released, primarily xenon. Such a number would seem
small compared with, for example, the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl,
which released anywhere from 13 million to 40 million curies of iodine and
is linked to 50,000 cases of thyroid cancer, according to World Health
Organization estimates.

But the Thompsons and Bear point out that the commission's own Technical
Assessment Task Force, in a separate volume, had concluded that iodine
accounted for 8 to 12 percent of the total radioactive gases leaked from
Three Mile Island. Conservatively assuming the 13 million curie figure was
the total amount of radioactive gases released rather than just the xenon
portion, and then using the Task Force's own 8 to 12 percent estimate of
the proportion that was iodine, they point out that "the actual figure for
Iodine release would be over 1 million curies" - a much more substantial
public health threat.

In another instance, the Kemeny Commission claimed that there were 7.5
million curies of iodine present in TMI's primary loop, the contained
system that delivers cooling water to the reactor. But a laboratory
analysis done on March 30 found a higher concentration of iodine in the
reactor water, which would put the total amount of iodine present - and
which could potentially leak into the environment - at 7.65 million

"Thus, while the apparent difference between 7.5 and 7.65 seems
inconsiderable at first glance," the Thompson/Bear report states, "this
convenient rounding off served to 'lose' a hundred and fifty thousand
curies of radioactive Iodine."

They also offer evidence of atmospheric releases of dangerously long-lived
radioactive particles such as cesium and strontium - releases denied by
the Kemeny Commission but indicated in the Thompsons' own post-disaster
monitoring and detailed in the report - and show that there were pathways
for the radiation to escape into the environment. They demonstrate that
the plant's radiation filtration system was totally inadequate to handle
the large amounts of radiation released from the melted fuel and suggest
that the commission may have arbitrarily set release estimates at levels
low enough to make the filtration appear adequate.

Shockingly, they also report that when readings from the dosimeters used
to monitor radiation doses to workers and the public were logged, doses of
beta radiation - one of three basic types along with alpha and gamma -
were simply not recorded, which Joy Thompson knew since she did the
recording. But Thompson's monitoring equipment also indicated that beta
radiation represented about 90 percent of the radiation to which TMI's
neighbors were exposed in April 1979, which means an enormous part of the
disaster's public health risk may have been wiped from the record.

Finally, in a separate analysis the Thompsons point to discrepancies in
government and industry accounts of the disaster that suggest the TMI Unit
2 suffered a scram failure - that is, a breakdown of the emergency
shutoff system. That would mean the nuclear reaction spiraled out of
control and therefore posed a much greater danger than the official story

The Thompsons aren't the only ones who have produced evidence that the
radiation releases from TMI were much higher than the official estimates.
Arnie Gundersen - a nuclear engineer and former nuclear industry
executive turned whistle-blower - has done his own analysis, which he
shared for the first time at a symposium in Harrisburg last week.

"I think the numbers on the NRC's website are off by a factor of 100 to
1,000," he said.

Exactly how much radiation was released is impossible to say, since onsite
monitors immediately went off the scale after the explosion. But Gundersen
points to an inside report by an NRC manager who himself estimated the
release of about 36 million curies - almost three times as much as the
NRC's official estimate. Gundersen also notes that industry itself has
acknowledged there was a total of 10 billion curies of radiation inside
the reactor containment. Using the common estimate that a tenth of it
escaped, that means as much as a billion curies could have been released
to the environment.

Gundersen also offered compelling evidence based on pressure monitoring
data from the plant that shortly before 2 p.m. on March 28, 1979 there was
a hydrogen explosion inside the TMI containment building that could have
released significant amounts of radiation to the environment. The NRC and
industry to this day deny there was an explosion, instead referring to
what happened as a "hydrogen burn." But Gundersen noted that affidavits
from four reactor operators confirm that the plant manager was aware of a
dramatic pressure spike after which the internal pressure dropped to
outside pressure; he also noted that the control room shook and doors were
blown off hinges. In addition, Gundersen reported that while Metropolitan
Edison would have known about the pressure spike immediately from
monitoring equipment, it didn't notify the NRC about what had happened
until two days later.

Gundersen maintains under the NRC's own rules an evacuation should have
been ordered on the disaster's first day, when calculated radiation
exposures in the town of Goldsboro, Pa. were as high as 10 rems an hour
compared to an average cumulative annual background dose of about 0.125
rems. No evacuation order was ever issued, though Gov. Dick Thornburgh did
issue an evacuation advisory on March 30 for pregnant women and preschool
children within 5 miles of the plant. The government also did not
distribute potassium iodide to the public, which would have protected
people from the health-damaging effects of radioactive iodine.

                    Lessons for the future?

When asked to respond to these allegations, a spokeswoman for the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission did not address them directly, instead stating that
it continues to stand by the Kemeny Commission report. The NRC further
insists that the radiation releases from Three Mile Island had only
"negligible effects" on the physical health of humans and the environment,
citing other reports from federal agencies [For a PDF of the NRC's
response to Facing South, see here.]

But Gundersen and the Thompsons argue such claims don't address new
findings at odds with the government's account.

"I believe [the] data shows releases from TMI were significantly greater
than reported by the federal government," Gundersen says.

They also say their findings that releases were potentially much larger
have important ramifications for current plans to expand the nuclear power

With more than $18 billion in federal subsidies at stake, 17 companies are
seeking federal licenses to build a total of 26 nuclear reactors across
the country, the first applications since the 1979 disaster. The
Atlanta-based Southern Co. plans to begin site work this summer for two
new reactors at the Vogtle site in Georgia, where state lawmakers recently
approved legislation forcing ratepayers to foot the bill for those
facilities up front. Florida and South Carolina residents have also begun
paying new utility charges to finance planned reactors, USA Today reports.
Plans are in the works as well for new reactors in Virginia, North
Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

Harold Denton, a retired NRC official who worked in Three Mile Island
during the crisis, recently told Greenwire that changes made after the
1979 disaster "significantly reduced the overall risks of a future serious
accident." But the Thompsons and Gundersen point out that the standards
the NRC is applying to the new generation of nuclear plants are influenced
by assumptions about what happened at Three Mile Island. They say the
NRC's low estimates of radiation exposure have resulted in inadequate
requirements for safety and containment protocols as well as the size of
the evacuation zones around nuclear plants.

Other nuclear watchdogs have also raised concerns that the NRC's standards
for protection against severe accidents like TMI remain inadequate. In a
December 2007 report titled "Nuclear Power in a Warming World," the Union
of Concerned Scientists notes that the worst accident the current
generation of reactors was designed to withstand involves only partial
melting of the reactor core but no breach of containment. And the NRC
requires operators of plants found to be vulnerable to severe accidents to
fix the problem "only if a cost-benefit analysis shows that the financial
benefit of a safety backfit - determined by assigning a dollar value to
the number of projected cancer deaths that would result from a severe
accident - outweighs the cost of fixing the problem," the report states.

Given their personal experiences, the Thompsons warn that we may be
fooling ourselves into believing nuclear power is safer than evidence and
history suggest.

"Once you realize how deep and broad the realignment of facts about TMI
has been, it becomes really pretty amazing," Randall Thompson says. "I
guess that's what it takes to protect this industry."

Sue Sturgis is an investigative reporter and editor for Facing South,
online magazine for the Institute for Southern Studies. Before joining
Facing South, Sturgis was a reporter for The Raleigh News & Observer and
The Independent Weekly.

This story originally appeared on Facing South, online magazine of the
Institute for Southern Studies:

[TMI is a typical example of "captialist ethics" - tender concern for
longer yachts for themselves, and heartless unconcern for other selves.
Why do we put up with capitalism once we know its evil heart?  -ed]

--------14 of 14--------

 The nuke industry
 leaks to the skies a glowing
 account of itself.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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