Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

A writer ponders on the radioactive waste at St Louis, Missouri

Even if we box it up and send it in train cars to remote places, it will be there, ready and waiting to kill any of us long after we’ve forgotten where we put it, or what “it” even is.

The Fallout, In St. Louis, America’s nuclear history creeps into the present, leaching into streams and bodies. Guernica, By Lacy M. Johnson, 10 July 2017  “……….Uranium, thorium, Agent Orange, dioxin, DDT. I am thinking of all the ways our government has poisoned its citizens as I board the plane that will take me back home. The sky grows darker; blue gives way to purple, to red and orange near the horizon. I read recently about a housing project in St. Louis, the infamous Pruitt-Igoe, where the government sprayed nerve gases off the roof to see what effect it would have on the people living there—testing it for its potential use as a weapon in war…….

A 2005 Gallup poll showed that a majority of Americans still approve of the dropping of bombs on Japan. Admittedly, this is down from near-total approval in August 1945, but it’s hardly a “moral revolution.” One factor in the decision to use the bomb was that their destructive power would end the war and save American lives—some estimated as many as a million American soldiers would have perished in a ground raid on Japan. Does saving one life require taking another? Must they both be soldiers, loyal to their countries and their neighbors? After Nagasaki was bombed, a woman walked through the burning streets asking for water for her headless baby. A four-year-old boy burned alive under the rubble of his crushed house was crying out, “Mommy, it’s hot. It’s so hot.” President Truman called this bombing an “achievement” in his solemn radio broadcast from the USS Augusta: “The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold.”

In the last few months of his term President Obama was reportedly considering the idea of adopting a no-first-use policy on nuclear weapons—an official promise that we would only use them in response to an attack by our enemies—but ultimately his advisors talked him out of it, arguing that it is our responsibility to our allies to maintain the illusion of ultimate power. Now that we have a new president with access to the nuclear codes we must face the consequences of projecting, and protecting, that illusion.

There are about sixteen thousand nuclear warheads in the world right now, enough to destroy the planet many times over. The United States and Russia own 90 percent of these, and though various treaties prevent them from making additional weapons, both are working to modernize the bomb-delivery systems they do have. The US government recently approved a plan to spend one trillion dollars over the next thirty years to make our arsenal more modern, accurate, and efficient.

One trillion dollars. This number is staggering, not least of all because one factor—a minor one but still a factor—deterring the EPA from fully excavating the radioactive waste created by the program that developed these nuclear weapons in the first place is how much it will cost. Maybe as much as $400 million. That’s a lot of money for an EPA project. Budgets are not so simple that one government program—like the Department of Defense—could direct money to another, but the fact that they are not does makes our priorities apparent.

Even if every gram of radioactive waste were removed from the landfill, where would it go? There are facilities in Idaho and Utah willing to accept it. But those facilities are located in communities, or near them, and those people don’t want this waste in their backyards or their gardens or their rivers or their drinking water either. Even if we box it up and send it in train cars to remote places, it will be there, ready and waiting to kill any of us long after we’ve forgotten where we put it, or what “it” even is.  ……..https://www.guernicamag.com/the-fallout/

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July 24, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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