Australian news, and some related international items

Citizens must get informed, and speak out against the dangerous nuclear industry

These women defy the illusion that you have to have a Ph.D. in nuclear physics or in nuclear engineering – that you must be a Ben Heard – to have a legitimate voice about nuclear power and the potential dangers of nuclear industry accidents. Our movement needs scientific experts, but all of us can gain basic knowledge and speak out
SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S NUCLEAR MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: THE GLOBAL CONTEXTSpirit of Eureka Talk by David Palmer at “SA  The Nuclear State” forum 03 May 2017   There are other speakers and participants here today who have more expertise in the scientific and engineering details of this controversy than I do. My comments are aimed, instead, at those powerful elite stakeholders who are at the core of what we know as the military-industrial complex – here in South Australia, our country, but also globally, with its centre in the United States.

Is this issue of a nuclear waste dump advocated for South Australia just about jobs and economic prosperity, as Premier Wetherill claims? Or is it far broader? The words of Ben Heard, former executive director of pro-nuclear power lobby group Bright New World, sum it up well: “We must be a full service provider to the nuclear back-end.”[1] Adelaide’s Advertiser reported last month that “a new open letter [has been sent] to state MPs, 42 influential people demand[ing] the State Government commits to completing first-stage investigations of the proposed high-level repository.”[2] Many of these “influential people” signed a similar letter back in December demanding the same thing, through Ben Heard’s pro-nuclear Bright New World.

But just what is this “nuclear back-end” – the back end of what? Nuclear materials have a wide range of uses, including medical and commercial ones that are distinct from their main uses for power generation and weapons. The vast majority of government expenditures related to nuclear materials goes toward nuclear weapons and military uses (such as naval propulsion systems), and nuclear power. In the United States, virtually all nuclear-related industries and products in the energy and military-application areas are joint operations involving private companies working under government contracts and regulations. The scientific and engineering knowledge required for the nuclear industry means that universities and university-linked research centres play a major role in bringing these two institutions – private companies and government – together. In South Australia, Ben Heard (who is connected to University of Adelaide) is symbolic of this key link connecting networked institutions and elites. 

The precedent for this corporate-government-military-university linkage began with the Manhattan Project of World War II, the massive project that led to the development of the first three atomic bombs: Little Boy (the uranium core Hiroshima bomb), and Trinity (the New Mexico test bomb) and Fat Man (the Nagasaki bomb) that both had plutonium cores. The most important leaders of the Manhattan Project were General Leslie Groves (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) and J. Robert Oppenheimer (theoretical physicist and professor of physics at University of California Berkeley). The bomb was developed in large part developed at Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, but the plutonium core required its own facility at Hanford, in Washington state where over 50,000 workers were hired by DuPont chemical corporation to run the operation. DuPont also was contracted to build the sprauling complex.

Following the end of World War II, the US built hydrogen bombs far beyond the destructive capacity of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs. At the same time, work began on developing nuclear power for supposedly peaceful purposes, what President Eisenhower dubbed the “Atoms for Peace” program – now generally recognized as integral to Cold War propaganda. There’s no denying that nuclear power became a major part of domestic electrical power generation. But the link between nuclear power development and nuclear weapons development continues to the present, even though international use of nuclear power plants for civilian energy use continues. However, the bigger picture is the linkage of these two – via the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about in his famous Farewell Address of 1961.

Let’s just back up for a moment and ask a question – the one related to “experts” versus “non-experts”. Why do I have any right to talk here today about such a complex issue as nuclear energy, nuclear waste, and the linkage to nuclear weapons? I am just an academic trained in history, including economic, political, and social history. But I do not have a degree or any direct experience in nuclear physics or nuclear applications. I have interviewed many atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki over the last two decades, so I’ve heard and seen the physical and psychological consequences of what atomic bombs do to people’s lives and health. But I am not an expert on the medical assessment of radiation on the human body. So what gives me the right to speak to you here today?

The answer, I believe, is that ordinary citizens, ordinary but intelligent people, have a right to speak on these issues – and in places like Fukushima, Japan they have taken this right to a new level. Women, particularly mothers concerned for the welfare of their children, urgently want an end to nuclear power in Japan and full disclosure of all the information related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, including accurate medical and radiation level information. They are organised and call themselves “Citizen Scientists.” They study the basics of nuclear technology and its applications to better challenge the industry, the corporate cover-ups by TEPCO, and the deceptions promoted by the Abe LDP government in power. They study the medical science behind radiation illness and convey this knowledge to others. This “citizen science” knowledge is their empowerment that defies the state and the corporations that have lied to them and endangered their lives and those of their family and neighbors.

These women defy the illusion that you have to have a Ph.D. in nuclear physics or in nuclear engineering – that you must be a Ben Heard – to have a legitimate voice about nuclear power and the potential dangers of nuclear industry accidents. Our movement needs scientific experts, but all of us can gain basic knowledge and speak out…………


May 13, 2017 - Posted by | South Australia, spinbuster

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