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In 2005-2006, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) granted PFS a construction and operating license, despite objections by traditionals with the Skull Valley band, nearly 500 environmental and environmental justice organizations, as well as the State of Utah. The plan was for 40,000 metric tons of irradiated nuclear fuel to be "temporarily stored" (for 20 to 40 years) in 4,000 dry casks on the reservation.
However, as the ultimate plan was to transfer the wastes to the Yucca Mountain dump, when that proposal was cancelled in 2009, this would have meant the wastes would have been stuck indefinitely at Skull Valley.
In 2006 a very unlikely coalition, involving the likes of Mormon political leaders and wilderness advocates, succeeded in creating the first federal wilderness area in Utah in a generation.
This created a "moat" around the Skull Valley reservation, blocking the railway needed to directly deliver the waste.
And, after lobbying efforts at the top echelons of Republican Party decision making circles by U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) as well as Utah Governor Huntsman, the George W. Bush administration's Department of the Interior refused to approve the lease agreement between PFS and the Skull Valley band, as well as the intermodal transfer facility on Bureau of Land Management property which could have allowed heavy haul trucks to ship the waste containers the final leg of the journey to the reservation.
Numerous targeted dumpsites in the East had been indefinitely postponed a year or two before, due to widespread public resistance. Deaf Smith County, TX and Hanford, WA were also being considered for the western dumpsite.
But TX had 32 U.S. Representatives, WA had a dozen, and NV, just one. TX and WA Representatives also held the powerful House Speaker and Majority Leader slots. On the Senate side, NV had two rookie Senators, regarded at the time as easy to roll. The "raw, naked" political decision was made behind closed doors.
But the science -- Yucca's geological and hydrological unsuitability -- caught up to the proposal. So did Harry Reid's revenge, as he grew in power to become Senate Majority Leader. Led by Western Shoshone spiritual leader Corbin Harney, the Western Shoshone National Council maintained tireless opposition to the dump, joined, over time, by more than 1,000 environmental groups. Then, in 2009, President Obama and his Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, wisely cancelled the dangerous, controversial proposal.
Although $11 billion of ratepayer and taxpayer money had already been wasted, another $90 billion would have been wasted if the project had gone forward. If the dumpsite had opened, many thousands of high-level radioactive waste trucks, trains, and barges would have travelled through most states, past the homes of tens of millions of Americans, at risk of severe accidents or intentional attacks unleashing disastrous amounts of radioactivity into metro areas.
And if wastes had been buried at Yucca, it would have eventually leaked into the environment (beginning within centuries or at most thousands of years), dooming the region downwind and downstream as a nuclear sacrifice area.
The difference with coal is it tends to contaminate everywhere totally but mildly, whilst nuclear also contaminates everywhere but most a few areas intensely.
In the Fukushima-era, Why No One Notices the Gagged Scientists
In the wake of the meltdowns at Fukushima, websites and blogs cropped up in abundance and over 18 months later these online watchdogs still play a crucial role in linking the news-hungry public with expert perspectives and data ignored by the negligent mainstream media.
Although their efforts at filling in news gaps left by our out-to-lunch mainstream media are commendable, the watchdog community has been neglectful in its own part.
While these online organizations see that the mainstream news isn't doing its job, they fail to notice how oodles of scientists ought be part of the Fukushima discussion but aren't. Scientists are being eerily silent and this huge issue isn't being addressed by activists.
This is perhaps to be expected. We usually subconsciously shy away from the topic of government coverups in fear of the conceptual collision between rational thought and personal allegiances. It's easier to focus on nuclear disasters and not 'see the forest,' or the fact our government took our power to 'go wild' with nukes and then silenced scientists to keep the wool pulled over our eyes.
Comprehending the Fukushima disaster, including the impacts on health and environment, requires synthesizing numerous scientific disciplines. But an entire world of scientists who ordinarily would chime in about a large-scale disaster won't do so about Fukushima because there would be negative repercussions in their lives. Scientists are unwilling to go on record about nuclear topics because they know what happens to those who speak out. Nuclear experts through the decades who warned of the health consequences of low dose radiation had their security clearances revoked, their funding dried up and even their travel visas turned down. These 'punishments' were doled out by government bureaucrats who were doing their job per directives.
A democracy can't operate when citizens are not well informed and sadly this is what government wants - to ensure that democracy doesn't function so that people don't wise up and oppose nuclear technology and weaponry. Our biggest problem isn't a delinquent media. We've got government censorship and intimidation, which are tools of tyranny. We ought to use our freedom of speech more wisely than we're currently doing. #
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collaborated with the National Atmospheric Deposition Program in an effort to monitor North American precipitation samples for the presence of nuclear fallout in response to the Japan Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station incident that occurred on March 11, 2011.
The study found concentrations (activity) and fallout (deposition) of radioactive iodine and radioactive cesium in significant number of samples. Detectable quantities of Iodine-131, Cesium-137, and Cesium-134 were observed at 21% of the 167 tested locations. Concentrations of I-131 detected in 5 samples ranged from 29.6 to 1090 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Concentrations of Cs-134 detected in 23 samples ranged from 0.4 to 55 pCi/L. Concentrations of Cs-137 in 33 samples ranged from 0.70 pCi/L to 39 pCi/L.
Detections and measurable fallout from wet deposition was observed primarily at NADP sites located along the West Coast of the US, the central Rocky Mountain region and northern Great Plains, the central and upper Mississippi River Valley and eastern mountainous regions ranging from Virginia northward through Vermont.
A particle of plutonium 239 revealed by autoradiography. The black star in the middle of the picture shows tracks made by alpha rays emitted from a particle of plutonium 239 in the lung tissue of an ape. The alpha rays do not travel very far but once inside the body they can penetrate more than 10,000 cells within their range. This set of alpha tracks (magnified 500 times) occured over a 48 hr period. The plutonium 239 particle that emitted them has a half life of 24,400 years. [Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, Berkeley California, September 20, 1982.]
This illustration is taken from Robert Del Tredici's book Working in the Fields of the Bomb - published in 1987. It shows a plutonium particle emitting ionising radiation. The tracks are about 35 microns (5 cell diameters) but this is a two dimensional view of a 3D tissue event, which in fact occurs continuously in biological space. Like a land mine that never stops exploding, it is perpetually damaging and destroying cells.