Monday, March 28, 2011

ISSUES: LePage removes historic Mural over weekend ... calls protestors "idiots".

Mural removed over weekend from Department of Labor offices
By Kevin Miller, BDN Staff
Posted March 28, 2011, at 10:22 a.m.
Last modified March 28, 2011, at 11:23 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A labor-themed mural that has become a flashpoint between Gov. Paul LePage, unions and Maine artists was removed from its prominent location in a state building over the weekend, administration officials confirmed Monday.

Administration spokespersons Dan Demeritt and Adrienne Bennett would not say when, exactly, crews took down the 11-panel mural depicting the history Maine’s labor movement.

“It is safely in storage and we are anticipating its relocation to a more appropriate location,” Demeritt said Monday morning.

Friday, more than 200 protesters gathered at the Department of Labor building in Augusta to show their opposition to the removal of the 3-year-old mural. Some in the crowd said they would employ non-violent tactics of civil disobedience to block the mural’s removal. LePage responded, in an interview with WCSH6, by saying if protesters formed a human chain around the mural as they were planning, “I’d laugh at them, the idiots. That’s what I would do. Come on! Get over yourselves!”

“The Department of Labor has an important job to do for workers and employers and we just didn’t have time for distractions,” Demeritt said.

The LePage administration decided to remove the mural after receiving a handful of complaints from citizens and business owners who viewed it as too pro-union for a department that is responsible for working with both employers and employees. The painting’s defenders, meanwhile, describe it as a piece of art that depicts important events, themes and figures in Maine’s labor history.

Portland officials have indicated they might be willing to house the mural in City Hall, but such a move would have to be approved by the City Council.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

ENERGY: Get to know your neighbourhood radionuclides.

Electron shell 094 PlutoniumImage via Wikipedia

Commonly Encountered Radionuclides

Approximately 2,300 nuclides have been identified; most of them are radioactive.

Which nuclides are radioactive?

Unstable nuclides of any element can exist. However, almost all elements that are heavier than bismuth, which has 83 protons, have an unstable nucleus; they are radioactive and are known as "heavy nuclides." Nuclides with fewer than 83 protons are known as "light nuclides."
While there are hundreds of radionuclides, many of them are rarely encountered. People are much more likely to encounter a few that are used routinely for medical, military, or commercial purposes. The list below and accompanying fact sheets discuss twelve radionuclides. They are the ones most commonly used and most commonly found in Superfund Sites.
Please note: Where an element is listed rather than an individual radionuclide, the element has several radioactive isotopes of interest:
Fact Sheets on Commonly Encountered Radionuclides
 Radiation Type
NameAtomic NumberAlphaBetaGamma
americium-24195Americium is primarily an alpha particle emitter. It also emits some gamma rays. Americium primarily emits alpha particles, but also emits some gamma rays.
cesium-13755 Cesium-137 is a beta particle emitter.Cesium-137 is a gamma emitter.
cobalt-6027 Cobalt-60 is a beta particle emitter.Cobalt-60 is a gamma emitter.
iodine-129 &-131 53 Iodine-129 and -131 are beta particle emittersIodine-129 and -131 are gamma ray emitters
plutonium94Most plutonium isotopes are alpha particle emitters; some emit other forms of radiation.Most plutonium isotopes are alpha particle emitters; some emit other forms of radiation.Most plutonium isotopes are alpha particle emitters; some emit other forms of radiation.
radium88Radium isotopes are alpha particle emitters. Radium isotopes are also gamma ray emitters.
radon86The isotopes of radon are alpha particle emitters.  
strontium-9038 Strontium-90 is a beta particle emitter.  
technetium-9943 Technitium-99 is a beta particle emitter. Technitium-99m  is a gamma emitter.
tritium * 1 Tritium is a beta particle emitter.  
thorium90Thorium emits alpha particles with gamma rays Thorium emits alpha particles with gamma rays
uranium92Uranium is an alpha particle emitter. Uranium is a gamma ray emitter.
* tritium is a specific isotope, H-3.

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Top 10 Myths of the Nuclear Industry

Atomic Energy of Canada LimitedImage via Wikipedia
CANDU: What is it?

CANDU stands for Canadian Deuterium Uranium reactor - playing on the North American boast of capability, "can do". The CANDU is a Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) using heavy water (deuterium) as both a moderator and coolant. The CANDU reactor core contains hundreds of horizontal tubes, inside which are pressure tubes containing fuel bundles. U.S. Light Water Reactors require enriched uranium fuel at about 2 to 4 percent uranium235 and use a relatively poor moderator (ordinary "light" water); whereas CANDU reactors use natural uranium at about 0.7 percent uranium235, but have a very good moderator (heavy water). Heavy water is very expensive and difficult to manufacture, making CANDU more expensive than other reactor designs.

1) Nuclear energy is clean:

The nuclear industry claims nuclear power is environmentally-friendly because it does not produce the greenhouse gases which are a result of fossil fuel plants. While this is true, it is of small comfort when compared with the inherent environmental hazards of nuclear power. The following hazards do not even include the catastrophic environmental consequences of a Chernobyl-type accident, which is a possibility in all nuclear reactors. This is particularly true of the CANDU, which shares the same pressure tube design flaw, called positive void coefficient, that is believed to have caused the Chernobyl meltdown.

CANDU reactors create three kinds of nuclear waste:

Tritium: a cancer-causing radioactive form of hydrogen created in CANDU reactors when heavy water (the reactors coolant) is exposed to radiation. Although tritium cannot pass through clothing or skin, it can be ingested through tritium-contaminated air, food or water. CANDU reactors emit tritium during normal operations and are prone to tritium leaks and spills. Chalk River nuclear laboratories has been leaking more than 4,000 litres of radioactive water into the Ottawa River for almost 20 years and the Pickering nuclear plant has been leaking tritium since 1979. The most recent spill happened in early September, 1997 at Pickering.

Low-level Radioactive Waste: see Myth 9 on uranium tailings.

High-Level Radioactive Waste: also called spent fuel, contains over 200 deadly radioactive elements, byproducts of the fission process, including uranium, plutonium, cesium, and strontium. The radioactivity of these elements is measured in half lives. A half-life is the amount of time it takes for the material to lose half of its radioactivity. Plutonium, for example, has a half-life of 24,400 years. This means that plutonium remains dangerously radioactive for more than 250,000 years. Other waste byproducts have half-lives as long as 710,000 years (uranium235) or 15.8 million years (iodine129).

The nuclear industry is proposing to bury the more than 27,457,272 kilograms of spent fuel (most recent figures are as of December 1995) somewhere in the Canadian Shield. Right now, over 65,000 bundles of nuclear fuel waste (1 300 000Kg) are being stored at Point Lepreau. Over 30,000 waste bundles are being stored in silos which have never undergone a public environmental impact assessment.

2) Nuclear energy is safe:

Even before the recent Ontario Hydro scandal, which resulted in seven of Ontario's 19 reactors being shut down for below standard safety levels, this industry claim of safety is absurd. Acknowledgement of the inherent danger of nuclear power is evident in the fact that not one single insurance company in Canada is willing to insure in case of a nuclear accident.

Ontario Hydro's estimate of the chances of an accident is one per 10,000 reactor years. A simple calculation extrapolating this result over the remaining projected lives of all existing Ontario reactors gives the odds of a Chernobyl-scale accident happening in Ontario 1 in 17 (Better than rolling snake eyes on a pair of dice). The chances of an accident being one per 10,000 reactor years are the same odds estimated by Soviet experts for their own reactors just months before the reactor core explosion at Chernobyl.

Every year there are hundreds of significant events at Canada's nuclear power plants which are reported to the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB). In the 1996 calendar year there were 800 unusual incidents at Canada's nuclear power plants, 411 of which required reports to the Atomic Energy Control Board.

There have been an alarming number of incidents at Point Lepreau's nuclear reactor:

Heavy water leaks in the station have continued .

Feeder pipes to the reactor fuel channels were found to be thinning and deteriorating.

While repairing a heavy water leak, workers discovered a large water manifold corroded and about to collapse.

After identifying a deterioration in safety culture and practices by the operators of the reactor, Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB) officials had to intervene in a proposal start up when it appeared there was insufficient assurance of safe reactor configuration. .

The availability and response time for a number of safety systems have been questioned by the AECB within the past two years.

3) Nuclear energy is not harmful to your health:

The entire nuclear fuel cycle-from mining and milling uranium to burning the fuel to storing the waste-creates health hazards for all Canadians, particularly those downwind or downstream of nuclear facilities. The mining of uranium creates radioactive radon gas, often inhaled into the lungs of miners. The milling process results in tonnes of waste tailings which are left above ground where they continue to give off radon gas.

When the uranium is burned it produces hundreds of radioactive substances, including plutonium. Spent fuel gives off gamma radiation so powerful that it can quickly kill any unprotected person standing near it. The gamma rays can pass through human tissue and can also cause radiation sickness, cancer, reproductive failure, and genetic deformities.

The radiation from alpha or beta emitting substances, like plutonium, cannot pass through skin. However, if these radioactive materials are inhaled or ingested, they are extremely carcinogenic. The Washington D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute notes that "less than 150 kilograms (of plutonium), proportionately spread to the lungs of the world's 5.4 billion people would be enough to cause lung cancer in every one of them.". Even low-level radiation, the kind Canadians absorb from tritium spills and leaks, uranium tailings, and radioactive emissions from normal reactor operations, can lead to abnormal cancer rates among nuclear workers and communities near reactor sites.

4) Nuclear energy is cheap:

Once upon a time, nuclear energy was considered "too cheap to meter." This claim has been proven untrue time and time again. As of 1997, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), the federal crown corporation responsible for designing and selling CANDU reactors, had received over $15 billion in federal taxpayer subsidies since 1952. If nuclear energy is so profitable then such subsidies should be unnecessary.

As well, CANDU reactors are shockingly inefficient electricity generators, and as the shut downs and problems at Point Lepreau have increased, so have our electricity bills. The average reactor in 1996 was producing only 66 percent of its potential capacity, despite a target of 80 percent. In the last few years, electricity production from Point Lepreau's reactor has fallen dramaticaly due to aging problems and lengthy shut downs for repairs. During 1995, the Point Lepreau reactor operated only 29%, and for the first half of this year it's record has been 54.9%.

5) Nuclear energy is necessary:

Despite what the nuclear industry would have us believe, nuclear energy is not an intrinsic part of our electricity sector. There are safer, cheaper and more reliable energy alternatives available. The first alternative is to promote energy efficiency and conservation. Canada currently is among the top per capita users of electricity in the world. Using new technologies such as more efficient lightbulbs, motors and insulation would cut down our electrical requirements considerably.

New Brunswick needs an energy efficency program that would create thousands of jobs in N.B., while at the same time preserving our environment. The equipment to co-generate from industrial steam and to capture waste heat would have to be manufactured and installed. Major retrofit programs in all sectors would have to be carried out. A program of energy efficient lighting including street lighting would be carried out. As well, a program for the replacement of old electric motors with new high efficiency motors would be put in place. An upgrading and efficiency program for older generating stations would be carried out. This would considerably boost the power output of several older hydro stations. There would also be incentive programs for the upgrading of existing buildings, and there would be an incentive program for homeowners to reduce their electrical consumption. An energy efficiency program has the potential to create economic activity all across this province, while setting an example for the rest of Canada to follow.

New Brunswick also needs a renewable source of energy plan. New supply projects required in N.B. should be based on renewable energy sources, and investments must be made in refining and implementing appropriate scale technologies to include small scale hydro, microhydro, biomass, solar photovoltaics, direct solar, biogass, geothermal and wind power.

A renewable energy plan with facilities phased in as new energy is required would be extremely beneficial to our New Brunswick economy over a long period of time. Many of the components, parts and equipment required could be manufactured by existing and new buisnesses in the province, thus creating new jobs and opportunities. Also, the economic and employment benefits from a renewable energy strategy would flow directly into communities all over the province rather than benefitting one area surrounding large coal or nuclear generating station. No longer would huge increased amounts of money flow out of the province to buy imported oil, coal, uranium and heavy water to fuel more large polluting power plants to produce more electricity for export.

With a renewable energy strategy based on small facilities, plants could be brought on line as required to correspond with any growth in electrical demand that may occur. We would no longer be tied to a situation where hundreds of new megawatts of electricity are brought on line all at once, thus leading to more exports. Or a situation where hundreds of millions of dollars have to be borrowed outside of the province to prebuild another large polluting energy source for some projected future need. We can start on the path to sustainability and we can make a difference.

6) CANDU reactors can not create bombs:

The dark underside of nuclear power has always been its potential for nuclear weapons proliferation, either through the production of plutonium - an inevitable byproduct of reactor operation - or through the transfer of sensitive nuclear information, technology and materials.

The nuclear industry's denial that CANDUs make bombs is undercut by the fact that in 1974, India detonated a nuclear bomb using plutonium manufactured in a reactor given to them by Canada. The CANDU reactor can aid proliferation in several ways. CANDUs possess on-line refueling capability - the reactor continues to operate while fuel is being removed and inserted. This makes it much more difficult to determine if spent fuel is being removed to make plutonium for nuclear weapons. Because CANDU uses natural uranium, fuel enrichment is not required. Since uranium enrichment is difficult and expensive, this can make it easier for a CANDU owner to build a bomb.

Despite Canadian and international non-proliferation agreements, CANDU sales carry an inherent risk of proliferation. Purchasers can simply ignore their commitments, as India did. All of our past CANDU customers (India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Romania, Argentina and South Korea) have at one time or another pursued a nuclear weapons program.

In recent years, without any public discussion or parliamentary debate, Canada has allowed its non-proliferation policy to be erode. Since 1989, Canada's nuclear boycott of India and Pakistan has been abrogated by quietly allowing AECL and other Canadian companies to provide nuclear assistance to both countries.

Because China has given aid to 'threshold' nuclear weapons states like Pakistan, the United States government will not allow its privately owned nuclear companies to sell reactors to China. The Canadian government has no ethical compunctions about selling reactors to China-it is eager and willing to take advantage of the absence of American competition.

7) CANDU exports are good for the economy

Since no new nuclear reactors have been ordered in North America for a couple decades, AECL justifies its billions in government subsidies by touting its foreign sales. One argument against the economic benefits of CANDU exports is the continued subsidies. If we examine the "opportunity cost" (what the subsidies would have been worth if the government had invested in more cost-competitive ventures), the accumulated subsidies to AECL, up to March 31, 1997, is $161.2 billion.

Another problem with the exports is that the number of nuclear power reactors under construction around the world is at its lowest level in 25 years and installed nuclear capacity worldwide has remained relatively flat throughout the 1990s. Given the intense competition for reactor sales, the scarcity of sales opportunities, and the domination of the existing world market by other reactor types, AECL is trapped in a buyer's market. The recent sale of CANDU reactors to China only went through after the Canadian government agreed to change its environmental assessment laws and give China a $1.5 billion loan, the largest in Canadian history. AECL's newest prospective client, Turkey, is demanding 100 percent financing on a project which could cost up to $8 billion. With the Canadian government securing unprecedented loans to foreign states to purchase CANDUs, every reactor sale actually increases the burden on Canadian taxpayers.

8) The nuclear industry does not need government subsidies:

As mentioned above, AECL has received $15.2 billion in government subsidies since 1952 (in real 1997 dollars and as of March 1997). While direct government funding has been nominally reduced to $132 million in 1997-98, the disguised subsidies and loans for the nuclear industry that were revealed in the past year add up to a staggering $2.8 billion. This includes $23.1 million at Whiteshell; an estimated $150 million for two MAPLE reactors; $500 million for the IRF reactor; $19 million for fusion research; $1.5 billion loan for CANDUs to China; and the transfer of heavy water worth $583.4 million to AECL. Public financial support has actually increased dramatically in the past year. Every one of these decisions has been made with little or no public consultation. In every case, detailed terms of agreements have been kept secret.

9) Uranium mining is not harmful:

Uranium mines in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Saskatchewan have left a deadly legacy of over 200 million tonnes of radioactive and acidic tailings. The tailings, often left in open pits near the mills, release the hazardous radioactive substances radium and radon (a gas). Radioactive wastes are also created by the uranium refining and conversion processes. These substances, if inhaled or ingested through contaminated food or water, can cause cancer.

10) Burning plutonium in CANDU reactors turns swords into ploughshares

The nuclear industry is claiming that a U.S. proposal to burn weapons plutonium from dismantled US and Russian nuclear warheads in CANDU reactors is a chance to promote world peace. However, this initiative does nothing to increase global security and merely helps to prop up a dying industry. AECL's plan risks promoting wide-spread use of plutonium as a nuclear fuel. Not only will this lead to serious environmental, health and safety hazards, there are also global security risks. Plutonium is simply too dangerous to be transported across the globe to light our homes and run our television sets. Even the United Nations Development Program admits that "it is difficult to imagine human institutions capable of safeguarding these plutonium flows against occasional diversions of significant quantities to nuclear weapons."

If the nuclear industry truly wants to contribute to world peace and protect our environment, plutonium should be treated as a hazardous waste and security risk. It should be eliminated by ending all plutonium production and isolating and guarding what's already been created to the best of our ability.

If you want to support our efforts or join the group, please let us know. We are working for the population of New Brunswick so they have a safer future. You can find very interesting information at these web sites:

Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
Campaign for Nuclear phaseout
Energy Probe
Action Group on Nuclear Issues
R.R,#4, Sussex, N.B.
E0E 1P0
phone: (506) 433-6101

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

THE DEMOCRATIC POWER OF ONE:Lepage removes mural to satisfy anonymous complaint of one!!!!
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ENERGY: Where are the Maritimes in the St. Lawrence Boundary contest. Or will 9 Billion $$ go to Quebec?

Quebec strikes offshore oil exploration deal

Gulf of St. Lawrence development; Province stands to gain $9B in royalties from Old Harry formation, minister says


QUEBEC - Offshore oil and gas development in Quebec's area of the Gulf of St. Lawrence could begin in 2014, Christian Paradis, federal minister of natural resources, said Thursday after signing an agreement that gives Quebec 100 per cent of the income from its undersea hydrocarbons.

The Quebec-Canada agreement, signed by Paradis, Quebec's Natural Resources Minister Nathalie Normandeau and its Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau, relies on the 1964 undersea boundary between Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Normandeau said Quebec stands to gain $9 billion in royalties under the agreement from the Old Harry formation in the gulf, giving Quebec more energy independence.

Old Harry may contain up to 2 billion barrels of oil, or 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
"Never have the planets been so well aligned," Normandeau said.

But a spokesperson for Newfoundland's Natural Resources Department, who requested anonymity, signalled a hitch in what Quebec Premier Jean Charest called a "historic" agreement.

"There is no undersea border between Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec," the spokesperson said, adding, "We certainly have an interest in seeing the boundary resolved to remove the uncertainty for developers."

"This is the starting point," Paradis said. "But Newfoundland can contest it if they want."
The Newfoundland spokesperson pointed out that a 2002 maritime boundary tribunal, created under similar offshore agreements between the federal government and Nova Scotia in 1984 and Newfoundland in 1986, concluded that the 1964 line had no basis in law.

The 1964 undersea boundary was agreed to by the four Atlantic provinces and Quebec, but was never made official, as required by Section 3 of the British North America Act of 1871.

Quebec stands by the 1964 line, which runs through the 29-kilometre-long Old Harry formation in the gulf, and won over Paradis, who said two days earlier that the agreement was "very complex."

Paradis denied the imminence of a federal election had anything to do with the sudden resolution of this file.

Earlier, Charest said he was very happy with the agreement, adding it would "play out over a few generations."

"It's more than just a question of day-to-day events. It's not an exaggeration to say that this is a historic agreement."

In the Quebec National Assembly, Charest told Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois the agreement contains an "arbitration clause" to deal with the boundary issue.

Marois replied if the boundary issue is not settled, the agreement, meant to allow drilling in Quebec's portion of the Old Harry formation, "does not include Old Harry."

In 2004, then-Quebec environment minister Thomas Mulcair imposed a moratorium on seismic testing and drilling in Quebec's portion of the gulf until 2012. Charest indicated the moratorium would run its course.

"The strategic environmental assessment will remain in place," the premier said.
It took 18 years from the signing of the offshore agreement with Nova Scotia to determine by arbitration the undersea border between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Paradis said the dispute-settlement process in this agreement calls for negotiation and mediation, with binding arbitration as a last resort.

Similar to two previous offshore agreements with Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, the Quebec accord provides for joint Quebec-Canada management of the resource.

The federal government and Quebec must adopt over the next 18 months "mirror legislation," essentially the same law passed by Parliament and the National Assembly, setting out that Quebec labour and workplace laws apply, while there is joint jurisdiction over the environment.

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that offshore resources belong to the federal government but all three accords give the provinces 100 per cent of the benefits.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
Read more:

Map Credit: David Suzuki Foundation
Reference:  The Maritime Boundaries of Québec -
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

ENERGY: Time to re-evaluate hydroelectric power in Maine, NB, and NS?

From National Geographic

Capturing Power in the Glens

Photograph by Toby Smith, Getty Images Reportage

This story is part of a special series that explores energy issues. For more, visitThe Great Energy Challenge.

In the rainy Scottish Highlands, home to Great Britain's highest mountains and largest inland lakes, some 80 dams span the valleys in testament to an earlier generation's vision of capturing then-elusive power from the abundant water of the glens.

(Related: See photos of Scotland)

The hydropower effort began in earnest here in the midst of World War II, when Winston Churchill's government saw expanding access to electricity as a national security imperative. In these rural valleys, only one farm in six had electricity, and the situation was worse in small agricultural holdings worked by tenant farmers; only one in 100 of these so-called "crofts" had power.

Today, of course, virtually all of Scotland has access to electricity, and the hydropower system established six decades ago provides 10 percent of the region's power. Even with windmills rising quickly in the countryside and offshore, these dams and 60 associated power stations still provide a large measure of the United Kingdom's renewable energy.

(Related: "Hydropower: Going With the Flow")

The Scottish hydro story echoes with relevance for a world that is struggling to find clean, safe sources of energy. The same battles pitting natural preservation against economic development that mark today's drive for new energy were waged in these valleys nearly 60 years ago. Scottish and Southern Energy's (SSE) Sloy Power Station dam (map) on Scotland's storied Loch Lomond, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Glasgow, illustrates well the choices that were made. The 185-foot (56-meter) water barrier, 1,170 feet (357 meters) long, seen here with a white rush of water at center as engineers test the main purge valve, is only a portion of the infrastructure built to generate power here. A system of tunnels and aqueducts diverts water into the system from areas well to the north and south.

In this altered landscape, whose beauty still endures, it may be possible to discern answers to today's energy conflicts in how Scotland harnessed the power of water.

—Marianne Lavelle, with reporting by Toby Smith

(Read about Scotland work's with National Geographic on a £10 million (approximately $16 million) competition for wave or tidal power innovation, the Saltire Prize, or watch a video here. Here is the Scottish government's website for the competition.)

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Native American land loss over time.

 Not sure what happened to native lands in Maine and New England.

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

ENERGY: Ralph Nader on our Nuclear Nightmare ... who will pay and why.

Nuclear Nightmare

The unfolding multiple nuclear reactor catastrophe in Japan is prompting overdue attention to the 104 nuclear plants in the United States—many of them aging, many of them near earthquake faults, some on the west coast exposed to potential tsunamis.

Nuclear power plants boil water to produce steam to turn turbines that generate electricity. Nuclear power’s overly complex fuel cycle begins with uranium mines and ends with deadly radioactive wastes for which there still are no permanent storage facilities to contain them for tens of thousands of years.

Atomic power plants generate 20 percent of the nation’s electricity. Over forty years ago, the industry’s promoter and regulator, the Atomic Energy Commission estimated that a full nuclear meltdown could contaminate an area “the size of Pennsylvania” and cause massive casualties. You, the taxpayers, have heavily subsidized nuclear power research, development, and promotion from day one with tens of billions of dollars.

Because of many costs, perils, close calls at various reactors, and the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania in 1979, there has not been a nuclear power plant built in the United States since 1974.

Now the industry is coming back “on your back” claiming it will help reduce global warming from fossil fuel emitted greenhouse gases.

Pushed aggressively by President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu, who refuses to meet with longtime nuclear industry critics, here is what “on your back” means:

1. Wall Street will not finance new nuclear plants without a 100% taxpayer loan guarantee. Too risky. That’s a lot

March 19, 2011… “SuperMoon” or “SuperHype”?

Watch to the east tonight as the Supermoon rises. Highest tide ... highest seismic risk.
by TAMMY PLOTNER on MARCH 10, 2011

Credit: JPL/NASA

I mean no disrespect for those who enjoy the study of astrology. Some of the greatest astronomers of the past were also astrologers. To practice either line requires a deep understanding of our solar system, its movements and the relationship to the celestial sphere. The only thing I have difficulty swallowing is how a perfectly normal function could wreak havoc on planet Earth. Does an astrological prediction of an upcoming “Extreme SuperMoon” spell impending disaster – or is it just one more attempt to excite our natural tendencies to love a good gloom and doom story? That’s what I set about to find out…

On March 19, 2011 the Moon will pass by Earth at a distance of 356,577 kilometers (221,567 miles) – the closest pass in 18 years . In my world, this is known as lunar perigee and a normal lunar perigee averaging a distance of 364,397 kilometers (226,425 miles) happens… well… like clockwork once every orbital period. According to astrologer, Richard Nolle, this month’s closer than average pass is called an Extreme SuperMoon. “SuperMoon is a word I coined in a 1979 article for Dell Publishing Company’s HOROSCOPE magazine, describing what is technically termed a perigee-syzygy; i.e. a new or full Moon (syzygy) which occurs with the Moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth (perigee) in a given orbit.” says Richard. “In short, Earth, Moon and Sun are all in a line, with Moon in its nearest approach to Earth.”

Opinions aside, it is a scientific fact when the Moon is at perigee there is more gravitational pull, creating higher tides or significant variations in high and low tides. In addition, the tidal effect of the Sun’s gravitational field increases the Moon’s orbital eccentricity when the orbit’s major axis is aligned with the Sun-Earth vector. Or, more specifically, when the Moon is full or new. We are all aware of Earth’s tidal bulges. The average tidal bulge closely follows the Moon in its orbit, and the Earth rotates under this tidal bulge in just over a day. However, the rotation drags the position of the tidal bulge ahead of the position directly under the Moon. It produces torque… But is it above average torque when the Moon is closer? It you ask a geologist, they’ll tell you no. If you ask an astronomer, they’ll tell you that just about any cataclysmic Earth event can be related to stars. But if you ask me, I’ll tell you that you should draw your own opinion. Even the American Meteorlogical Society states: “Tidal forces contribute to ocean currents, which moderate global temperatures by transporting heat energy toward the poles. It has been suggested that in addition to other factors, harmonic beat variations in tidal forcing may contribute to climate changes.”

Credit: Richard Nolle“SuperMoons are noteworthy for their close association with extreme tidal forces working in what astrologers of old used to call the sublunary world: the atmosphere, crust and oceans of our home planet – including ourselves, of course. From extreme coastal tides to severe storms to powerful earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the entire natural world surges and spasms under the sway of the SuperMoon alignment – within three days either way of the exact syzygy, as a general rule.” says Nolle. “Obviously it won’t be the case that all hell will break loose all over the world within a few days either side of the SuperMoons. For most of us, the geocosmic risk raised by SuperMoon alignments will pass with little notice in our immediate vicinity. This is a rather roomy planet, after all. But the fact remains that a SuperMoon is planetary in scale, being a special alignment of Earth, Sun and Moon. It’s likewise planetary in scope, in the sense that there’s no place on Earth not subject to the tidal force of the perigee-syzygy.”

If you take the time to really look at Nolle’s work, you’ll find that he does not believe earthquakes and volcanic eruptions go wandering all over the planet. They happen in predictable locations, like the infamous “Ring of Fire” around the Pacific plate. “If you’re in (or plan to be in) a place that’s subject to seismic upheaval during a SuperMoon stress window, it’s not hard to figure out that being prepared to the extent that you can is not a bad idea. Likewise, people on the coast should be prepared for extreme tidal surges. Severe storms on the other hand can strike just about anywhere, so it behooves us all to be ready for rough weather when a SuperMoon alignment forms.”

Does this mean I’m about to buy into astrology? Not hardly. But what I do believe in is respect for other’s work and opinions. It’s very obvious that Nolle has done his astronomy homework – as well as paying close attention to current political and social situations. “That said, there’s no harm in making sensible preparations for this year’s SuperMoons.” quips Richard. “The worst that can happen, if the worst doesn’t happen, is that you end up with a stock of fresh batteries and candles, some extra bottled water and canned goods, maybe a full tank of gas and an evacuation bag packed just in case. (The US Department of Homeland Security has a detailed evacuation kit inventory that, to quote them, “could mean the difference between life and death”.) And maybe you’ll think twice about being in transit and vulnerable to the weather hazards and delays that are so common during SuperMoon alignments. These are the kind of sensible precautions that can make a big difference if the worst does come to pass.”

What do I believe will happen during an Extreme SuperMoon? I think if we aren’t having two snowstorms followed by a nocturnal tornado and then chased down by a week of flooding in Ohio, that the March Worm Moon will appear to be about 30% brighter and about 15% larger than a “normal” full Moon. If I were an astrophotographer, I’d be getting out my camera (and hip waders) to do a few comparison shots with upcoming full Moons. But considering all things are equal?

I think I’ll just stay home.

Be sure to visit Richard Nolle’s page SuperMoon for more insight!

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