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Nuclear Age Began 70 Years Ago Today

Ninety-nine licensed nuclear power plants operating in the U.S. are 99 potential Three Mile Islands
by Janette Sherman

Jul 16, 2015 | Blog, Environment



Seventy years ago today, on July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb was detonated at the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range in New Mexico–known from that day in 1945 as the “Trinity Site.”

Trinity was the code name for the first detonation, chosen by J. Robert Oppenheimer, the technical director of the Manhattan Project that developed the bomb. Oppenheimer took the name from a poem by John Donne, the British poet and cleric who lived from 1572 until 1631.

No rationality has thus far stopped the development of nuclear weapons or nuclear power plants. And no morality has protected human beings from exposure.

“The Trinity” is the fourth poem in John Donne’s Divine Poems, A Litany.

It is preceded by “The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost.” “Trinity”’s first line is: “O, Blessed Glorious Trinity.”

The fifth divine poem in Donne’s litany is “The Virgin Mary,” which begins with: “For that fair blessed mother-maid.”

That fair blessed mother maid? I think, what mother would have agreed to develop a bomb so powerful it could wipe out civilization?

Son? Perhaps the alternative spelling “Sun,” as suggested in the poetic title of Robert Jungk’s history of the atomic scientists: Brighter Than a Thousand Suns.

Holy Ghost? The holy ghosts of humans, animals, birds, sea life, insects and plants, damaged by nuclear activities?

General Leslie Groves, in charge of the Trinity Site, witnessed first-hand the horrific damage caused by the bomb detonated in Nevada. Then he issued orders to drop two on Japan.

“Little Boy,” a uranium bomb, was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Three days later, “Fat Man,” a plutonium bomb, was detonated over Nagasaki.

Oppenheimer later recalled that the explosion had reminded him of a line from the Hindu holy text, the Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

The terrifying destructive power of atomic weapons and the unleashed atom haunted some of the Manhattan Project scientists for the remainder of their lives.

Yet no rationality has thus far stopped the development of nuclear weapons or nuclear power plants.

And no morality has protected human beings from exposure. Confronted by radioactive fallout in Nevada, our government outsourced its weapons testing to the Bikini Atoll, a dot on the map of the Pacific Ocean, and other sites in the Marshall Islands, where residents still suffer adverse effects from bomb testing that began in 1954.

Servicemen, workers, and ships were exposed to the tests.

Many of the ships used in the tests in the Pacific were sailed or towed to Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco, to be decontaminated. The Naval Radiation Defense Laboratory was established in 1945 and continued until 1969.

I worked at the Defense Laboratory in the 1950s, as a biologist testing animals that were exposed to thermal burns and radiation. Unsurprisingly, Hunters Point has been found to be contaminated by asbestos, chemicals—and radioactivity.

Today, the nuclear power industry that began with Dwight Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program produces electricity at great risk. We have documentation of animal deaths after the 1979 near melt-down of the Three Mile Island Generating Station in Pennsylvania; of massive contamination after the Chernobyl Power Plant explosion in 1986; and more recently, scientific proof of the ongoing world-wide contamination from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, where emergency backup systems failed to prevent partial meltdown damage in three reactors flooded by a tsunami in 2011.

Is there an advantage to owning nuclear weapons–or for that matter operating power plants?

Ninety-nine licensed nuclear power plants operating in the U.S. today are 99 potential Three Mile Islands.

The 4,760 nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal are 4,760 potential destroyers of worlds.

—Janette D. Sherman, M.D.
July 16, 2015

Janette Sherman is a physician and author, specializing in toxicology and chemical—and radiation-related illnesses.

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  1. Exellent text, bravo! Agree with ant words.

  2. I propose having the President direct that the Government shift all the Gov’t. guaranteed funds slated for new Nuclear Power generation and/or Nuclear Power R&D (notice I’m not including Nuclear Weapon R&D) to:

    1) Triple current Solar R&D (including tidal and ocean current generation) because the spinoffs will more than pay US back in the future, since the USA can then export new Solar Technology instead of just weapon systems.

    2) Begin a National “Man on the Moon” type effort by installing BOTH Residential and Utility Solar funded in the same way and at the same ultra low interest rates that the Big Banks are currently enjoying to replace as much of our “dirty” generation as soon as possible, while upgrading the US Grid at the same time.

    I understand that it will not happen overnight, but the important thing is that IT WILL HAPPEN and if President Obama cannot get this project started during his term, then I look to Bernie Sanders to make it a top priority!

    It is vital that we as a Country Say N☢ to using Nuclear!

    p.s. I saw this quote on Tweeter and it gives credibility to what I’m saying:


    A $1 trillion investment in infrastructure could create 13 million decent paying jobs. We need to invest in infrastructure, not more war.

    Now just imagine how an even larger National Effort could Jump Start our sagging Economy!

    Posted https://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2015/07/08/should-nuclear-energy-try-to-fight-the-natural-gas-craze/

  3. Here are some factual cost numbers provided by bobwallace that were posted on Forbes here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2015/07/11/france-will-fix-its-nuclear-problems-but-will-that-satisfy-other-nations/2/

    “Production costs from the existing fleet are heading higher over the medium-term,” France’s Cour des Comptes said in a report to parliament published today.

    The report, which updates findings in a January 2012 report, said that in 2012 the Court calculated the cost of production of the current fleet for 2010, which amounted to EUR 49.5 per megawatt-hour.

    Using the same method for the year 2013 the cost was EUR 59.8/MWh, an increase of 20.6 percent over three years.


    That’s about $0.08/kWh for electricity from paid off reactors.

    US onshore wind is now about 4 c/kWh unsubsidized. US PV solar is now about 6.5 c/kWh unsubsidized. That for new capacity and their costs will fall to about 1 c/kWh upon payoff. Compare both the new and paid off wind and solar prices to France’s 8 c/kWh for paid off nuclear.

    Plus, those numbers do not even consider what will happen to Energy costs when Tidal and/or (sub-surface) Ocean generation (that will provide true 24/7 generation) comes on line in the very near future.

    Here is just one example:

    Kepler Energy reveals plans for tidal energy scheme in Bristol Channel


  4. Fukushima proved that Nature can destroy any land based nuclear reactor, any place anytime 24/7 so until they all are decommissioned we RISK a US Fukushima!

  5. The military program that produced the Atomic weapons used in Japan created “the nuclear power industry that began with Dwight Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program”

    Utilities have used these nuclear power plants to create 50 to 70+ year (design to decommissioning) income streams for themselves and their shareholders with little to no oversight by the ratepayers they keep in Energy Slavery with ever increasing Energy costs. It is no wonder that these Nuclear Utilities are doing everything they can to oppose the adoption of residential Solar, since Solar offers almost all their ratepayers a path toward Energy Independence (once their Solar investment is paid off), since they can then reduce their monthly Energy Utility bills as low as they want. Big Utilities are using their considerable Political influence to reduce, limit and/or eliminate all subsidies for residential Solar (Wind and PV) since those will only make it easier for ratepayers to “escape” Energy Slavery.

    Residential Solar also offers its Owners the option to use their generated Energy for electric vehicles (eVehicles), which then eliminates having to pay for diesel or gasoline at the pump which includes large amounts of taxes. As an example, you can now buy a number of electric motorcycles that have a top speed over 80 mph, only cost about a penny a mile to operate and can be driven on the highway over 150 miles between charges! https://www.zeromotorcycles.com/motorcycles/
    Larger eVehicles will also provide some Energy Storage options that were unheard of just a few years ago, since Energy Storage technology is now just beginning to become commonplace and it will also help revolutionize how ratepayers manage the energy they generate themselves.

    Tesla Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel who offered a vision for the future of energy storage and PV. Straubel believes that the energy storage industry is “right at the precipice” of massive cost declines like PV experienced. “The next decade is going to look very different because all of the demand [for energy storage technology] coming from stationary energy storage and from electric vehicles — from many different companies not just Tesla — will change the demand curve and slope in a huge way,” he said. “It’s kind of like the difference between solar used for pocket calculators and satellites VS solar used for buildings. The demand is orders of magnitude higher and puts it on a different trajectory for cost declines.”

    To put it in numbers, Straubel believes that the demand for batteries coming from just his company will be something like 35GWh of energy storage by 2020. “That is more lithium-ion capacity than existed in the entire world in 2013.”

    For all these reasons and more, Nuclear Utilities fear what is know as the “Utility Death Spiral” and it is no wonder that Energy investors have now shifted so much of their investment money away from Nuclear and toward “Clean and SAFE” Renewables like Solar and/or Wind Generation that no new nuclear reactors would be built without huge Government guarantees, despite what the cost of the Energy produced is or what voters/ratepayers want.

    I predict that we are now seeing the last of the “Nuclear Age” which began about 70 years ago, since Nuclear is pricing itself out of the Energy Marketplace since the cost of Renewable Generation is dropping almost monthly and is predicted to continue to do so far into the future! Of course, like the dinosaurs of past ages, we will see them struggle as current economic conditions make it ever harder for them to compete. Since a major cost for business is Energy, expect to see them relocate to where Energy is the lowest cost (along with their good paying jobs) or simply generate their own Energy, like Google, Apple and others are now starting to in ever increasing numbers.

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